Joe Toplyn Picks His Joke of the Week

Congrats to Jon August 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: Jon August, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Putin Fires His Chief of Staff

Punch Line: Out of a cannon. Into a wall.

Jon must have used Punch Line Maker #1 — Link two associations of the topic–to create this great joke.

One handle of the topic, “Putin,” has the association “brutal.” The other handle of the topic, “fires,” has the association “fires a gun.” Jon’s punch line links those two associations in the idea of Putin using his Chief of Staff as a human cannonball.

Jon’s punch line benefits from Joke Maximizer #1: Shorten as much as possible. There isn’t one syllable you could cut without hurting the joke.

Jon also took care to follow Joke Maximizer #4: Make everything clear. Merely firing a guy out of a cannon wouldn’t be that brutal; circuses do it all the time. Putin, and the joke, needed that guy to hit something solid. That’s why Jon added “into a wall.”

Congrats, Jon! Joe will be sending Jon 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 August 15, 2016.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.