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If things weren’t interesting enough in the Late Night world, Chelsea Handler of “Chelsea Lately” has just signed to do a Late Night Show on Netflix.

Huh?

This immediately made me wonder: What is Netflix thinking?!

I think this can work, and if it does, what does it mean for you?

Netflix is on the cutting edge in original content with the super-successful House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Orange Is The New Black starring Taylor Schilling and a full cast of excellent actors.

Now they are taking on the world of Late Night, offering a show to the sassy and very funny, Chelsea Handler.

Kind of an interesting setting: “Late Night” on Demand. Not sure how it will do in this content delivery setting but considering the success DVRs, Amazon, Hulu and other content providers, and their ability to let viewers watch their favorite shows whenever they want really not only opens up almost endless possibilities for viewers but for writers as well!

Maybe that’s something that Conan O’Brien should’ve thought about, especially considering multi-million dollar disappearing act he seems to be doing over at TBS.

I don’t even know what channel TBS is on my DirecTV or even if it’s on their lineup at all. I just don’t pay that much attention any more. With 500+ channels on my DirecTV, nothing really stands out. Am I the only one?

The sad part is that I like Conan.

However, I know I go to Netflix all the time looking for something to watch at night when I’m having a cocktail or three.

But enough about my alcohol problem:

What Does This Mean For You?

There has never been this kind of movement in Late Night programming in television history. This means that there will be staff shake-ups and new staff hirings for shows.

Consider what’s happening in the next few months: Not only is Chelsea Handler starting a new show soon, Craig Ferguson is leaving CBS and David Letterman will be swapped with Steven Colbert. That’s three Late Night shows that are starting and staffing!

Makes you want to say HOLY CRAP! How do YOU spell “OPPORTUNITY?”

As a person who has been around this business for years as an actor, a comedian and a writer, I see this as a golden opportunity. This is the closest thing to pilot season a writer of Late Night can ask for.

Top 3 Things you should be doing right now:

  1. Creating or Refreshing a Submission Packet for Late Night
  2. Contacting The New Shows To Find Out Exactly What They are Looking for in a Packet
  3. Sharpening Your Skills to Write Sketches, Monologues, Desk Pieces, and Drop-Ins

Writing for Late Night is one of the few jobs in this town you can get without an agent or much prior television experience. In fact, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the highest rated Late Night Show on TV right now, recently scooped up an IT Professional based on what he was posting on his Twitter feed.

Getting your stuff seen by the right people at Late Night is not that difficult.

The Head Writer is Looking For You

The Head Writer at any of these shows has a specific job. He has to make sure the writing team is producing the best content that fits the show and is right for the Host. At the same time, turnover in the Late Night world is big, so the Head Writer is always looking for talented writers who can produce material for his show.

So who do you think you need to contact to get your writing packet seen?

You guessed it; The Head Writer.

So get out there and get your stuff seen!


How Do You Do This?

There’s a specific set of skills you need to get into Late Night Comedy Writing.

  1. You can learn those skills by trial and error. Not a bad thing. The more you write the more you learn. You can test your jokes against Late Night Shows to see how they compare to the writers who are on the shows you are targeting.
  2. You can acquire knowledge & develop your skill by attending workshops: Joe Toplyn teaches an excellent workshop in New York City. I teach an excellent LIVE workshop in Burbank this Tuesday night and I have an online video course. (P.S. I don’t get any commission or kick-backs or anything from pimping Joe’s workshops. I just think he’s a talented guy who has a ton of experience).
  3. You can acquire the knowledge by reading books on the subject. Again Joe Toplyn has an excellent book, “Comedy Writing For Late Night T.V.,” available on Amazon.

Remember classes are not mandatory, but they will help you acquire knowledge from experienced professionals and help you develop your writing chops a lot faster. Workshops also help you light a fire under that writer’s butt and fill your head with new inspiration, goals and creativity.

So what are you waiting for?

Hit me back if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way to venture into the Late Night Comedy Writing world. I will give you my all to help you reach your goals.

Best if you leave a comment below and start a conversation. Maybe we can get Mr. Toplyn in to join us too!

Hey Comedy Writers! Join the Conversation!

    7 replies to "Top 3 Things You Should Be Doing As a Writer Right Now"

    • Alex Marin

      Wow I definitely need to jump on this, thanks !

    • Patrick Kanehann

      To those who are sitting on the fence or are just considering Jerry’s class: just do it (Oh, wait, I just stole Nike’s punchline). It’s worth 10-times the cost and highly recommended. One of the students in my class ended up on the short list for the NBC Late Night Writing Program. Of course, one class does not equal instant success (and who wants anything “instant” like instant coffee?). However, if you want to get a solid overview of the process, a terrific submission format, as well as a great refresher on comedy structures, don’t miss this opportunity.

    • Gary Garib

      I am taking the comedy class on Saturday, and I just got the late night writing on the internet. Jerry has a lot of information for stand up comedy and late night show writing. So far so good. It is totally worth the time and money .

    • Michael Laman

      Thanks for pointing out what a great chance for new talents to enter the business. Wish I was in LA now, and not in Houston. We have lots of open mics here, and I need to go after those.

    • Mike Stigs

      going to look into it. Thanks

    • Joe Toplyn

      Thanks for the mention, Jerry. You’re absolutely right: taking a class on comedy writing for late-night TV is a terrific way to learn the specific writing techniques you must master to break into that specialized TV genre. But even a writer who isn’t assembling a late-night packet can benefit from learning proven methods for writing short-form comedy like topical monologue jokes.

      If attending a class isn’t possible, writers can take your online course or buy my book “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV.” The idea is to not waste your time figuring out for yourself how to write tight, killer material and instead let comedy professionals help you get down that learning curve pronto.

    • Joe Toplyn

      Thanks for the mention, Jerry. You’re absolutely right: taking a class on comedy writing for late-night TV is a terrific way to learn the specific writing techniques you must master to break into that specialized TV genre. But even a writer who isn’t assembling a late-night packet can benefit from learning proven methods for writing short-form comedy like topical monologue jokes.

      If attending a class isn’t possible, writers can take your online course or buy my book “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV.” The idea is to not waste your time figuring out for yourself how to write tight, killer material and instead let comedy professionals help you get down that learning curve pronto.

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