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

Congrats to Mark Kosin 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: Mark Kosin, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: There’s Actually a Wrestling Villain Called “The Progressive Liberal”

Punch Line: He bodyslams you and then immediately provides you with free healthcare.

Mark created this great joke using Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “wrestling,” has as an association “injury.” The other handle of the topic, “Progressive Liberal,” has as an association “free healthcare.” Mark’s punch line links those two associations.

In addition to making his joke short and clear (Joke Maximizers #1 and 4), Mark used Joke Maximizer #9: Get specific. Instead of writing something general like “He injures you,” he wrote “He bodyslams you,” which paints a more vivid — and funnier — picture.

Mark’s joke is also a great example of how to write political comedy that won’t automatically alienate half of a mass audience. The implication of his punch line, that progressive liberals support free healthcare, isn’t an insult, it’s a generalization that most people would accept as true.

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.”