Former Head Writer of The Tonight Show Picks His Joke of the Week

Congrats to Michael Sanky for winning this week’s joke pick!

Pro comedy writer Joe Toplyn, Former head-writer of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman, picks his joke of the week:

Winner: Michael Sanky, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Samsung Phone Exploded in CeeLo Green’s Face

Punch Line: Don’t you just hate when your phone blows up and your Christmas album doesn’t?

Michael apparently turned to Punch Line Maker #1 — Link two associations of the topic — to create this great joke.

One handle of the topic, “exploded,” has as an association “blew up.” The other handle of the topic, “CeeLo Green,” has as one association “Christmas album,” which has the sub-association “was unsuccessful.”

Michael’s punch line links “blew up” and “was unsuccessful” through the alternate meaning of “blew up,” “became a success.”

A joke won’t work unless the audience accepts the punch line as true. That doesn’t mean factually true; it means believable. Did CeeLo Green actually release a Christmas album? I don’t know. Was the Christmas album, if it existed, a success? I don’t know that either. But I believe that CeeLo Green easily could have released a Christmas album that bombed, which is why the punch line works for me.

Congrats, Michael! Joe will be sending Michael an autographed copy of his book, “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV,” the book that teaches you how to write jokes like a pro.

Be sure to keep writing and staying engaged every day. The more your write and the more you vote, the better your chances of becoming next week’s winner!


Four-time Emmy winner Joe Toplyn is a former head writer for David Letterman and Jay Leno. He also wrote the book “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV.”

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