So for the last few weeks, I’ve been waiting with baited breath to see if I had been accepted to the NBC Late Night Writers Workshop. It’s a week long program that takes aspiring writers and exposes them to all sorts of industry players, helping them learn about the process of making late night TV. Supposedly 1400 people applied. Here’s a blurb about the program from the website:
The NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop is a program focused on exposing talented joke, sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late-night & alternative lineup and readying them for a staff writer position. We are looking for writers who are “almost there” but need that final bit of preparation and exposure to key industry players. We particularly encourage female writers and those of diverse backgrounds to apply.
I suppose I don’t really have the diversity piece, although German-Irish is pretty diverse in my book. But I felt like the rest of the pieces were there. Unfortunately as of today, they announced that all ten spots had been filled. Contestants were asked to submit writing packets for evaluation. Packets were to include the following:
- 1-2 pages of topical monologue jokes. If you think it helps us, please indicate which host’s voice you have in mind (can be but does not have to be NBC host). Topical news jokes and pop culture jokes should make up the bulk of your material.
- 1-2 pages of original ideas for refillable late night “desk bits”. These can be ideas for elements like Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You Notes”, pre-taped correspondent bits like “Jaywalking” or multimedia bits. For this portion, please provide descriptions of the bits and not scripts.
- 2 SNL-style sketches (no more than 5 pages EACH). One sketch should introduce an original character and one should be topical (something newsworthy or pop culture-based).
So I’d like to share with you a writing packet that will not get you accepted to this type of program.
My packet definitely had some opportunities for improvement upon reflection. One was that I misread the 3rd requirement and wrote out an entire desk bit instead of writing a topical sketch. The other was that I wrote that piece in the voice of Conan O’Brien, whose falling out with NBC was apparently a big deal. I wanted to showcase the fact that I could write in different voices, but I probably should have picked another NBC host to do that.
Really, I was hoping that my monologue jokes would be strong enough to cover up the flaws in the other areas. And I do think my jokes are strong. It’s the sketches that were my downfall and unfortunately that makes up the bulk of the packet. I have really never written sketches before so it was hard for me to tell what would work and what wouldn’t.
Back to the drawing board. I don’t remember who said it but someone in the comedy business said that if you want to make it, you have to become undeniable. I wasn’t undeniable this year. So we’ll try again next year, when I’ll submit under the pseudonym Dr. Maria del Mar Rojas.