Late Night with Jimmy Fallon cuts the “fax” line on freelancers, cites WGA?

A generation of aspiring stand-up comedians have worked far, far behind-the-scenes of late-night TV comedy, contributing jokes as freelancers via fax. Fax? FAX! For you kids, a fax machine sent facsimile paper copies of your paper to someone else over the phone lines. Technology.

If you were one of the lucky ones, you got your name added to the fax lists, and you, too, could submit jokes on a daily basis to Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and even Saturday Night Live. Well, that's no longer the case in 2010 for freelancers to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, because they all received this new year's mass rejection letter, which cited "WGA restrictions" for cutting them loose. Wondering what those restrictions could be, since I haven't heard anyone from Letterman's or SNL's list reporting getting a similar letter. Time to check in with the Writers Guild, I suppose.

UPDATED: Letterman apparently got rid of most of the freelancers in October?!? SNL is still OK with Weekend Update submissions if you're on the list. Leno, well, what do you think? Also, thanks to CCInsider for reminding me that the WGA did say in this Los Angeles Times story last year that they weren't happy about all of the freelancing.

Dear Late Night Faxers,

First and foremost, thank you for contributing monologue jokes to the show each day. Due to WGA restrictions, however, we are suspending the freelance joke submitting process for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. We will no longer be sending out premises or receiving any submissions.

Please feel free to apply for monologue writing positions as they open up. Thank you again for your excellent work and have a wonderful holiday season.

Sincerely,
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

7 thoughts on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon cuts the “fax” line on freelancers, cites WGA?

  1. Man I’m glad I retired from standup when I did. The whole damn world has gone political and nuckin futz! To show you how good I was going in standup….I’m the only one that knows I retired!
    Oh yeah and…..Good for Drew Carey for “standing up” to The last Comic Standing in season 2 for insider politics

  2. I heard a rumor that they sent those e-mails to the freelancers who weren’t very good, as a nice way of cutting them loose.

  3. After the LA Times piece came out, I posed a question about this to Letterman’s head writer at the JFL Comedy Conference (his answer, and my thoughts on said answer, are here: https://www.third-beat.com/?p=627 )
    I think Christian’s comment above is a perfect illustration of what the real loss is here. Aspiring writers can get a foot in the door. Jon Rineman at Fallon said at a recent panel that was a freelancer for the show, living with his parents in New Hampshire, when he got the shot at a staff job. The reality is, even getting your packet submitted requires an “in” that a lot of comics outside NY/LA have.
    Also, re: Mike’s comment, I was always under the impression that nobody got paid unless they got something on the air. It seems extreme to cut no-cost dead weight under false pretenses.

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