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

Congrats to Eric Neil Horn 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: Eric Neil Horn, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Tebow homers in first at bat of minor league debut

Punch Line: But refused to go to first base until he’s married

Eric used Punch Line Maker #4 — Find a play on words in the topic — to create this great joke.

One handle of the topic, “[Tim] Tebow,” has the association “chaste,” which has a sub-association “doesn’t go to first base.”

The other handle of the topic, “homers,” has the association “run to first base.” Eric’s punch line uses the two different meanings of “first base” — a play on words — to make a surprising link and get a laugh.

Notice that Eric didn’t end his joke on “first base” even though that’s the play on words. He must have realized that “married” is the most surprising word in the punch line, so it should go last.

A punch line like “But until he’s married he refuses to go to first base” wouldn’t be quite as effective because saying “married” too soon hints at where the laugh will come from, violating Joke Maximizer #5.

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.”