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

Congrats to Antoinette Scherer 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: Antoinette Scherer, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: One-star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” disappear on Amazon

Punch Line: They’re not missing. They’re just displayed on a private server.

To write this great joke, Antoinette might have used Punch Line Maker #3: Ask a question about the topic.

One question that topic suggests is, “Where did the one-star reviews go?” Antoinette answered that question using an association of the topic handle “Hillary Clinton,” namely “private server.” That answer became the basis of her punch line, and her laugh trigger.

Antoinette shows here how you can write a political joke without potentially alienating half your audience. Even fans of Hillary would have to admit that she had a private server to shield information from public view.

This joke also demonstrates how an angle can strengthen a joke. Omitting the angle “They’re not missing” would hurt the logic and clarity of the joke and leave the audience momentarily confused by the punch line and, therefore, not laughing as hard.

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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