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

Congrats to Leonie Rachel 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: Leonie Rachel, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: EasyJet mass brawl ‘after woman gets breasts out’ and ‘gives lads lap dances’

Punch line: Or maybe she was just trying to squeeze back into her window seat.

Punch Line Maker #5 isn’t used very often but it can lead to a great joke like Leonie’s. Punch Line Maker #5 is the one where you visualize the topic.

Leonie might have started by forming a mental picture of the topic, in which a woman on an airliner is wriggling and thrusting her breasts at men sitting right in front of her.

The next step is to get a different perspective on that mental picture. So Leonie thought of a different activity that might explain the action that she’s visualizing. Because the action took place on a low-cost airline, Leonie linked the wriggling and thrusting to the idea that the poor woman had to contort herself that way just to squeeze back into a row of ridiculously cramped seats. And that surprising but relatable idea became her punch line.

Then Leonie was careful to add an angle — “Or maybe she was just trying to…” — to efficiently steer the audience into proper mental position to get punched by her punch line. By contrast, just following up the topic with a phrase like “Squeezing back into her window seat?” wouldn’t have been as funny.

And Leonie made sure to end on the most surprising words, the laugh trigger, “window seat.”

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.”