Pros Pick Their Joke of the Week

Congrats to Jason Holland for winning this week’s joke pick and to the 4 private session winners: Alese Watson-Johnson, Bret Sohl, Marc Huppman and George Garner!

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: Jason Holland, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Bad summer camp names

Punch Line: Camp Sandusky

Jason’s great joke is an example of how the same writing techniques used for monologue-style jokes can be used to write other types of jokes, too.

To create his bad summer camp name, Jason may have turned to Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic — “bad” — has as one association “sex abuse.” The other handle of the topic — “summer camp” — has as one association “children.” Jason’s punch line links those two associations by invoking child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky.

Jason may have considered whether his joke might benefit from Joke Maximizer #11: Don’t be too on-the-nose. For example, he may have thought of giving his camp name a traditional Native American spin like “Camp San-Dus-Ky.” If he did consider that, I think he was right to forgo the possibly confusing spelling and instead keep his punch line perfectly clear.

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


Cory Kahaney (HBO, Letterman, Late Late Show), Peter Charkliss (former writer for Arsenio Hall, Craig Kilborn, Craig Ferguson), Gabe Abelson (former head monologue writer for Letterman) and David Weiss (Emmy winning writer, written for Dennis Miller, Martin Short, Late Late Show) select their 4 comedy dedication recipients: Alese Watson-Johnson, Bret Sohl, Marc Huppman and George Garner. Check them out on Comedywire!

Gabe, Cory, Peter and David will be giving Alese, Bret, Marc and George each a free one-hour creative session to discuss comedy and her/his body of work.

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

Originally published at on June 6, 2016.

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