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

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Congrats to Robb 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: Robb, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin Take a Shot at Trump at the Emmys

Punch Line: Trump responds by saying they have gone from 9’s to 5’s. Sad!

Robb’s great joke might have been the product of Punch Line Maker #3: Ask a question about the topic.

Knowing our president, one question you might logically ask is, “How did Trump take a shot back at the actresses?”

Robb answered that question using associations of the handle “Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.” The associations he homed in on were “9 to 5’” — the movie they starred in — and one of its sub-associations, the alternative meaning of “9” and “5” which is “boorish ways of rating a woman’s appearance.”

That answer to the original hypothetical question, based on the alternative meaning of “9 to 5,” became Robb’s punch line. And the Trumpian tag “sad!” gets an additional laugh.

This is a great example of how to write a political joke that’s unlikely to alienate a sizeable chunk of your audience. It’s a Trump joke, but even Trump fans can enjoy it because it has Trump getting off a zinger at the expense of some showbiz critics.

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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