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

Feb 20, 2018 · 2 min read

Congrats to Justin Wood 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: Justin Wood, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Miami could be underwater in your kid’s lifetime as sea level rise accelerates.

Punch line: In related news, it looks like Pitbull is going to end up being a rescue.

Justin used Punch Line Maker #1 — Link two associations of the topic — to write this great joke.

One handle of the topic, “Miami,” has as one association “Pitbull,” a rapper with close ties to Miami. Another handle of the topic, “underwater,” calls to mind pets being rescued from the flooded city.

Justin’s punch line links “Pitbull” to “rescued pets” by taking advantage of another meaning of “pit bull,” namely a breed of dog.

Note that Justin used Joke Maximizer #1 and kept his joke as short as possible. For example, he decided that “rescue” was enough, without tacking on “dog,” which also would have made the punch line too on-the-nose.

Justin also employed Joke Maximizer #7 — Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance — managing to include 12 stop consonants after the angle “in related news.” “Pitbull” alone packs 3 stop consonants into only 2 syllables. So think of Pitbull if you’re looking to book a musician for your joke.

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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