Gathering of late-night TV scribes wows audience

FUNNY BUSINESS: Five late-night comedy writers came together Tuesday night (March 30) in New York for a panel discussion on the art of comedy writing for television. The writers (front row, l-r): Erik Kenward, “Saturday Night Live”; Bashir Salahuddin, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”; Jason Ross, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”; J.R. Havlan, “The Daily Show”; and Diallo Riddle, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Back row (l-r): Alaina Bendi, Center for Communication; Adam Buckman, moderator, TVHowl.com; and Dr. William Baker, Fordham University. Photo: Center for Communication

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 — Many thanks to our panel of five late-night comedy writers who all  participated in a live panel discussion before an audience of several hundred college students and others Tuesday night (March 30) in Manhattan.

The event, sponsored jointly by the Center for Communication and Fordham University and held at Fordham’s Pope Auditorium on West 60th Street, brought together representatives of three New York-based late-night shows: “Saturday Night Live” (writer: Erik Kenward), “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”(writers: Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle) and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (writers: Jason Ross and J.R. Havlan).  The moderator was yours truly, Adam Buckman.

Among other things, the audience learned, from Erik Kenward, that “SNL” writers observe the results of their sketch-writing work in the company of the show’s uber-boss Lorne Michaels during the show’s traditional dress rehearsal, the dry run just before the live broadcast when the evening’s sketches are audience-tested.  It’s during that dry run that Michaels will sometimes yank a sketch altogether or order changes.

All the panelists urged audience members to start working on their comedy writing if they ever hope to break into the big time and become staff writers on some of TV’s biggest shows.  The panelists advised prospective comedy scribes to produce visual content for the Web as a way of practicing this comedy art form and also as a way of assembling a body of work to show prospective employers.

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com

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