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

Congrats to Christopher Schmidt for winning this week’s joke pick!

Pro comedian Joe Toplyn, Former head-writer of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman, picks his joke of the week:

Winner: Christopher Schmidt, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Man kicked off plane for urinating on fellow passenger

Punch Line: Because he produced more than 3.4 fluid ounces

To create this great joke, Christopher used Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “kicked off plane,” has the association “broke an airline rule,” which has the sub-association “carried on more than 3.4 ounces of liquid.”

Another handle of the topic, “urinating,” has the association “producing liquid.” Christopher’s punch line links those two associations. And his angle, “because,” leads logically from the topic to that punch line.

In addition to keeping his joke short and putting his laugh trigger at the very end, Christopher employed Joke Maximizer #4: Make everything clear. He wrote “fluid ounces” instead of just “ounces,” so the audience wouldn’t think he was talking about weight. And he included the precise number of ounces in the TSA rule, 3.4. Nailing down details that way helps to ensure that the audience doesn’t mentally trip over anything on their way to laughing.

Congrats, Christopher! Joe will be sending Christopher an autographed copy of his book, “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV,” the book that teaches you how to write jokes like a pro.

Be sure to keep writing and staying engaged every day. The more your write and the more you vote, the better your chances of becoming next week’s winner!

Originally published at on October 10, 2016.

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