More than 1,000 people applied to NBCUniversal’s “Late Night Writers Workshop” to diversify TV writing staffs

You’re not the only person to have noticed over the years that late-night TV comedy/talk shows are predominately written by and starring white men.

NBCUniversal — which includes The Tonight Show (with Jay Leno current edition; Jimmy Fallon as of February 2014), Late Night (with Fallon; soon to be with Seth Meyers), Saturday Night Live, and Chelsea Lately on E! — hosted its first two-day Late Night Writers Workshop earlier this month to try to change that. Or at least open the doors of opportunity to more diverse voices.

“We kind of thought that we would get maybe about 500 submissions for the Late Night Writers Workshop, and we got over 1,000 submissions,” said Karen Horne, vice president of programming talent development and inclusion. “We were really pleased by that.”

The workshops, held in New York City, brought in a handful of those aspiring sketch comedy and joke writers inside 30 Rock’s fortress of late-night TV, and exposed them to speakers, classes and network executives. Duly noted: “Writing assignments on an NBCUniversal late night television show may be available after successful completion of the program but are not a guarantee.”

Jenny Hagel, one of the writers who participated in this month’s workshops, said: “I think the thing that makes late-night comedy so special is that it has a strong point of view. And I think the more diverse voices and opinions and life experiences and backgrounds you get into a writers room, the more points of view you’re going to have.”

If you want to keep track of this opportunity for 2014, bookmark this site and click back to the NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop page at NBCUniversal Careers.

Applicants for this year’s inaugural workshop submitted a PDF “sketch” packet that included one to two pages of monologue jokes, one to two pages of topical jokes ripped from the headlines, and two sketches (one of which focuses on a desk bit or pre-taped idea).

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.

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4 thoughts on “More than 1,000 people applied to NBCUniversal’s “Late Night Writers Workshop” to diversify TV writing staffs

  1. They got over a thousand submissions? That means they’ll get even more next time. That’s a ton of competition. Make sure the material you submit is your best work by getting my new book, “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV,” now available on Amazon. I worked inside “30 Rock’s fortress of late-night TV.” I was a head writer for Dave and Jay. And I’ll teach you how to put together a strong submission packet step-by-step.

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