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

Congrats to Christopher Scriva 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: Christopher Scriva, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Donald Trump Considered Rescinding Neil Gorsuch’s Nomination Because He Wasn’t ‘Loyal.’

Punch Line: He stayed at a Marriott.

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

One question Christopher might have naturally asked about the topic is “Why did Trump think Gorsuch wasn’t loyal?”

To answer that question, Christopher thought of the many associations of the topic’s handle, “Donald Trump,” and picked out “Trump hotels.” That association became the basis of his punch line.

But Christopher didn’t just write a punch line like “He didn’t stay at a Trump hotel.” That punch line would have been too direct. Instead, Christopher used Joke Maximizer #11 — Don’t be too on-the-nose — and made his laugh trigger a competing hotel chain.

And Christopher didn’t just write “He stayed at a competing hotel chain.” He used Joke Maximizer #9 — Get specific — and ended the joke with a particular chain, Marriott.

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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