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

Congrats to Ross Bucher 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: Ross Bucher, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Trump Pardoned ‘Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio Announces Arizona Senate Run

Punch line: For the first time, Joe Arpaio welcomes a race.

Ross’s great joke is the product of Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.

The topic handle “Joe Arpaio” is associated with many concepts, among them “against illegal immigration,” which has the sub-association “race.”

Another handle of the topic, “run,” is also associated with “race,” but in the context of running for office.

Ross decided to build a punch line around the two different meanings of the word “race.” To do that effectively, he carefully crafted an angle that makes sense for both meanings of “race”: Arpaio has never welcomed a non-white race before and, also, he welcomes the upcoming political contest. Because Ross used Joke Maximizer #4 — Make everything clear — the audience isn’t distracted by any logical inconsistencies on their way to the surprising laugh trigger.

Ross also edited his joke with Joke Maximizer #1 — Shorten as much as possible — and Joke Maximizer #2 — End on the laugh trigger.

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.”