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

Congrats to Matt Neimark 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: Matt Neimark, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Trump to Ainsley Earhardt: “I Don’t Want Celebs at Inauguration, I Want the People”

Punch Line: “Then do I have the band for you!” said the manager of 3 Doors Down.

Matt’s great joke is the product of Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “Trump’s inauguration,” has the association “3 Doors Down,” who played there. To most people, “3 Doors Down” has the sub-association “not celebrities.”

Matt’s punch line links that sub-association to another handle of the topic, “no celebs wanted.” That surprising linkup creates the laugh.

Notice that Matt made his joke as strong as possible by carefully crafting his angle. He could have written the okay punch line “Which explains why Trump picked the band 3 Doors Down.”

But instead, Matt had the band’s own manager classifying them as non-celebrities. That’s a wild exaggeration, and wild exaggeration is funny, as Joke Maximizer #8 says.


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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