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

Congrats to Andrew Fruchtman 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: Andrew Fruchtman, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: UK Scrabble group bans star player for breaking tile rule

Punch Line: I have no words for this.

To write this great joke, Andrew used Punch Line Maker #1 in an unusual way.

Punch Line Maker #1 entails linking two associations of the topic, a process that begins with identifying two handles of the topic, two attention-grabbing elements. Those handles are almost always a short phrase or a word, like “Scrabble,” which is one of the handles used here.

But the second handle isn’t a word in the topic. Instead, it’s a feeling that most people would have about the topic, which is something like “shocked.” That feeling, the second handle, is associated with being “speechless.”

Andrew’s punch line, “I have no words for this,” neatly links the association “speechless” with an association of the other topic handle, “Scrabble,” namely the inability to form a word on the game board.

Andrew also kept his punch line as short as possible. He even decided, rightly, that an angle like “That’s unbelievable” was unnecessary.

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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