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

Congrats to Larry Kirschner 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: Larry Kirschner, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: This model was discovered at age 60

Punch line: They call her Model T.

Larry’s great joke is the result of Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.

One handle of the topic, “age 60,” has the association “old,” which has as a sub-association “old car.” The other handle of the topic, “model,” has the association “fashion model.”

Larry’s punch line, “Model T,” is a play on words because it can be two different things: the stage name of some fashion model and also Henry Ford’s car from the early 20th century. So using “Model T” links “fashion model” and “old car” in a surprising way and gets you the laugh.

Larry made full use of Joke Maximizer #1: Shorten as much as possible. His three-syllable angle — “They call her” — does what an angle should do and couldn’t be any shorter. And his laugh trigger — the most surprising element of the punch line — is only one letter: T.

Larry also used Joke Maximizer #2: End on the laugh trigger. A less-effective, rough-draft version of the joke might have been, for example, “Model T is her stage name.”

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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