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

Congrats to Willie Robinson 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: Willie Robinson, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Brazilian scientists bake bread out of cockroach flour

Punch Line: The bread rises faster when you turn the lights on.

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

One handle of the topic, “bake bread,” has as an association “bread rises.” The other handle of the topic, “cockroach,” has as an association “runs fast when you turn the lights on.”

Willie’s punch line — “the bread rises faster when you turn the lights on” — links those two associations.

Notice that the joke doesn’t have an explicit angle like “And this is interesting…” Willie decided that including an angle wasn’t necessary in this case, and I agree. Without the angle, the joke is as short as possible (Joke Maximizer #1).

Willie also made sure that the logic and wording of the joke are clear (Joke Maximizer #4) and that the laugh trigger is at the end (Joke Maximizer #2).

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.”