Congrats to the comedians and funny writers named today to NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop, an annual program “focused on exposing talented sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late night & alternative line-up and readying them for a staff writer position.”
Alumni include Chelsea Davison (“The Opposition with Jordan Klepper”), Jenny Hagel (“Late Night with Seth Meyers” who also appears onscreen in the “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” segment), Kate Sidley (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”), Nedaa Sweiss (“The Late Late Show with James Corden”) and Will Storey (“The Opposition with Jordan Klepper”).
This year’s class: Alyssa Feller, Jonathan Giles, Michael Hartney, John Mahone, Cameron Smith, Natasha Vaynblat and Bryan Yang.
“In the six years since its inception, our Late Night Writers Workshop has changed the landscape of late night and sketch comedy by infusing fresh, new diverse voices into the writers’ rooms,” said Karen Horne, SVP, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. “Since late night and sketch comedy use the cultural zeitgeist and world events to drive their humor, it’s especially critical to have inclusive writers’ rooms that reflect the diversity in our world.”
During an intensive six-day program at NBC’s headquarters in 30 Rockerfeller Center, participants receive an in-depth look behind the network’s own late-night programming, hear from guest speakers who write and perform on other network late-night shows, and take part in workshops and seminars. The program helps develop new material for each participant they can use in their writing packets, and NBC helps attempt to place them in open staffing positions and secure representation.
Bios for the 2018 Late Night Writers Workshop provided by NBC:
Alyssa Feller: Feller’s passion for comedy and writing started at a young age when she won a local student theater competition in high school for her comedic one-act play “State v. Gold E. Locks.” After finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida, she wrote an original pilot “Dreamland’ that was selected as one of two finalists at the 4th Annual Los Angeles Scripted Comedy Festival. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2016, she has frequently written and performed in Late Night with Jimmy Fallopian Tubes, an all-female live late night show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where she is also an advanced student in improv and sketch comedy. She was previously a freelance writer and researcher for Cracked, a popular humor site, and she is currently an executive assistant at Legendary Digital Networks.
John Mahone: Mahone has been writing, producing and performing comedy for more than 12 years. He began his stand-up career in college at Wesleyan University before moving to New York where he was accepted into the New York Comedy Festival and hosted “Ms. Show,” a stand-up show he created to give a stage to underrepresented comedic voices. He moved to Los Angeles in 2016 where he has been an active member in The Second City community as a writer-performer for the house sketch team, Cuddle Puddle, and the host of his own late night style talk show, “Last Chance with Derek Chance.” Additionally, he is the first winner of the Second City Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy scholarship that gave him one-year of classes in improv and sketch comedy writing at Second City Hollywood.
Jonathan Giles: Jonathan Giles writes and performs sketch and stand-up comedy. He has performed at the San Fran Sketchfest, and was named a finalist in the Jack Rollins Talent Breakthrough Competition. In 2017, Giles was a performer at the NBC’s Breakout Festival. An Atlanta native, Giles lives in Los Angeles.
Michael Hartney: New York-based comedian Hartney started his comedy career at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre after graduating from SUNY Buffalo. He later landed the roles of the Stanley and Mr. Williams in the original Broadway production of “School of Rock The Musical” where he also served as the understudy for the lead role Dewey. He expanded to television writing, serving as a staff writer on TVLand’s late night show “Throwing Shade” and co-creating IFC’s digital sketch series “Unique New York.” He has also appeared on “30 Rock” and in the film “Small Time.” He can be seen next in the upcoming Netflix children’s sketch series “The Who Was Show.” Hartney is repped by APA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Cameron Smith: After graduating from the University of Virginia, Smith moved to New York to kick start his comedy career. He has taken improv and sketch classes at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and currently works as a freelance writer for MTV where he developed a late night pilot and wrote for seasons 10 and 11 of “Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ’N Out.”
Natasha Vaynblat: Russian-born Vaynblat was previously a high school teacher in New York before pursuing comedy full time. She has co-written and starred in two original series for IFC’s Comedy Crib in addition to writing and performing two solo shows, “The United Federation of Teachers” and “Self Help Yourself, Help!,” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Her writing has also been featured in McSweeney’s, Reductress, and Funny or Die News. Most recently, she completed the MADE IN NYC Writing Fellowship at the Writers Guild of America, was a writer-producer on MTV’s “Girl Code,” and was named one of the “Nine of the Funniest Women in NYC Right Now” by women’s lifestyle site PureWow. Vaynblat currently freelances for TruTV, WeTV, BirdBrain and Big Energy Productions. She is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Bryan Yang: Sacramento native Yang began his comedy career in his hometown before moving to New York. Since then, Paste Magazine has featured him in their online video series “Stand-Up at the Paste Studio, and he was named one of Buzzfeed’s “Top 14 Comedians You Should Be Paying Attention To.” Yang has performed at some of the best comedy clubs and festivals across the country including the Sacramento Punchline, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, San Francisco Punchline, Limestone Comedy Festival, Cobb’s Comedy Club, The Comedy Attic, New York Comedy Club, Gotham Comedy Club and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.