Late-night insight: TV writers offer look behind the laughter

The Brooklyn Paper
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How do you make professional comedy writers laugh? Ask them to look at your jokes.

A panel of late-night TV show scribes will assemble at Spike Hill in Williamsburg on Aug. 23 to discuss their work as part of the Brooklyn Comedy Festival. Wannabe writers can expect to get plenty of insider information on the industry — but it isn’t an invitation to show up with your funny-writing folio, said one of the festival organizers.

“Last year, we had someone offer a packet to them, which was very strange,” said Evyatar Gour, who will also moderate the event.

Fortunately, the writers saw the funny side, and turned the awkward situation into a joke, he added.

But that doesn’t mean the free talk won’t help you kickstart your comedy-writing career. Gour said audience members will get clued in to the ideal writing styles for the various late-night series.

“When you’re writing for John Oliver or Jon Stewart, you’re writing for a specific voice,” he said. “In the late night, you’re pitching everywhere — ideas, characters, things that are wacky and can veer off into different voices.”

Wordsmiths appearing on the panel will include and Chris Kelly from “Saturday Night Live,” and Arthur Meyer, who writes for and occasionally appears on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” alongside others yet to be announced.

There will also be a question and answer section, which Gour said usually gets pretty candid — and hilarious. But he expects that the funniest part of the afternoon won’t be when the writers talk about their best ideas — it will be when they discuss the ideas that were massive failures, which Gour said often leads to the better jokes in the future.

“Failure is an important part of process,” he said. “The way you learn from failure is just as important as what you learn from a huge laugh.”

Late Night Writers Panel at Spike Hill (186 Bedford Ave. between N. Sixth and N. Seventh streets in Williamsburg, Aug. 23 at 2:30 pm. Free.

Posted 12:00 am, August 21, 2014
Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
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