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

Congrats to Jen Lap 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: Jen Lap, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: September 26 is the Most Popular Day for Births Because of “Christmas Sex” Nine Months Before

Punch Line: Or for Jews “Chinese Restaurant Sex”

To write this great joke, Jen might have used Punch Line Maker #2: Link the topic to pop culture.

Jen identified the handle “Christmas” and then brainstormed other things that people do on Christmas. Expanding farther into pop culture, she came up with the Christmas tradition many American Jews have of eating at Chinese restaurants. And that pop culture reference became the basis of her punch line.

Notice that “Chinese restaurant” is the most surprising part of the punch line, which makes it the laugh trigger. And Joke Maximizer #2 says that the laugh trigger should be at the very end of the joke, which would result in a punch line something like, “sex at a Chinese restaurant.”

But Jen decided that “Chinese restaurant sex” is funnier because of Joke Maximizer #6 — “Make the punch line parallel” — and Joke Maximizer #1 — “Shorten as much as possible.”

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.”