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

Congrats to Chris C. Davis 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: Chris C. Davis, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: “Duke,” A Dog in the Bush’s Baked Beans Commercial, Has Died

Punch Line: In lieu of flowers, his wife Duchess has asked that well-wishers let her sniff their butts.

To write this great joke, Chris probably used Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “dog,” has as one association “sniffs butts.” Another handle of the topic, “died,” has as one association “funeral,” which has the sub-association “in lieu of flowers…”

Chris’s punch line links “sniffs butts” to “in lieu of flowers…” by making the surprising but logical statement that a grieving doggie would be more comforted by the fragrance of butts than flowers.

Alternatively, it’s tempting to focus on “baked beans” as a handle of the joke, with either “dog” or “died” as the other handle. If you do, you could use Punch Line Maker #3 (“Ask a question about the topic”) and ask yourself why the dog died. Then you might come up with a punch line about how, say, Duke ate a ton of baked beans and exploded with flatulence.

So there can be multiple paths to punch lines. Whatever punch line you settle on, be sure to fit it with an angle that connects it smoothly and logically to the topic.

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.”