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

Congrats to Lee O. Valentin 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: Lee O. Valentin, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: 2 students accused of distributing nude photo of teacher

Punch Line: She gave them 2 D’s

To write this great joke, Lee used Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.

One handle of the topic, “teacher,” has the association “grades,” which has the sub-association “D’s.” A second handle of the topic, “nude,” has the association “breasts,” which has the sub-association “D-cup.”

Lee’s punch line creates a link that takes advantage of the two meanings of “D.” In this case, the play on words is actually a play on letters.

Notice that Lee took care to write a short angle that results in a completely logical joke, per Joke Maximizer #4. The teacher would be angry at the students for distributing the nude photo, so it makes sense that she would give them the low grade. And because two students were involved, she would hand out two D’s.

The joke isn’t logical if you know that the teacher in the real news story is male. But the topic doesn’t tell us that, so the joke works.

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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