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

Congrats to Tom Patrick for winning this week’s joke pick!

Pro comedian 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: Tom Patrick, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: University of Northern Colorado students are now forced to use mandatory gender-neutral language.

Punch Line: I’m sorry, we meant “PERSONdatory.”

Tom used Punch Line Maker #1 — Link two associations of the topic — to create this great joke.

The first step was to identify two handles of the topic: “mandatory” and “gender-neutral.”

The next step was to brainstorm a list of associations for each handle; “mandatory” led to “man” and “gender-neutral” led to “replace ‘man’ with ‘person.’”

Tom linked those two associations to create his laugh trigger, “PERSONdatory.” He also made sure that the laugh trigger was at the very end of the joke.

A punch line has to strike the audience as true if they’re going to laugh at it. Notice that Tom’s punch line implies that the university’s gender-neutral language policy is a bad idea. Tom judged — I think correctly — that most of his audience would agree with that.

Congrats, Tom! Joe will be sending Tom 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 31, 2016.

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