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

Congrats to Joy Mamey 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: Joy Mamey, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Ocasio-Cortez slams McCaskill for referring to her as ‘shiny object’ and ‘thing’

Punch line: To be fair though, I’ve also started calling my metallic vibrator “Congresswoman-elect Ocasio-Cortez.”

Joy used Punch Line Maker #2 — Link the topic to pop culture — to write this great joke.

She began by identifying a handle, or attention-getting element, of the topic. The handle she chose is the distinctive phrase “‘shiny object’ and ‘thing.’”

Then Joy brainstormed on what else in popular culture could be described using the same phrase. Instead of just settling on something mundane like a toaster or a wedding ring, Joy pushed herself to come up with a really unexpected, and therefore funny, object — a metallic vibrator. That object became the basis of her punch line.

But Joy didn’t just write a straight-ahead version of the joke like “That makes Ocasio-Cortez sound like my metallic vibrator.” Instead, she crafted an angle — “To be fair though, I’ve also started calling…” — which misleads the audience into expecting a reasonable, serious statement. That angle heightens the surprise of the punch line, which turns out to be anything but serious.

Also heightening the surprise of the punch line is Joke Maximizer #9 — Get specific. The addition of the detail “Congresswoman-elect” to “Ocasio-Cortez” heightens the contrast between the sex toy and its dignified nickname, making the joke funnier.

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.”