Breaking Into Late Night TV as a Writer

Hosted by Rob Kutner

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Rob Kutner

Webinar hosted by: Rob Kutner

Emmy Award Winning Late Night TV Writer (CONAN, THE DAILY SHOW)

Rob Kutner is an Emmy, Peabody, and Grammy Award-winning late night television staff writer who has worked on shows like CONAN and THE DAILY SHOW. Starting out as a writers’ assistant on DENNIS MILLER LIVE, Rob is also the author of the satirical end-of-times bestseller Apocalypse How: Turn the End Times into the Best of Times! and has written material for the Oscars, Emmys, Writers’ Guild Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Guys’ Choice Awards, and two White House Correspondents’ Dinners. Rob has spent the majority of his storied career operating and thriving in the world of late night television and is ready to tell you how you can do the same. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

The television landscape has changed dramatically over the years and continues to evolve, seemingly on a weekly basis. Yet through all of it, an undeniable constant has been late night TV. In fact, with their up-to-the-minute spoofs of our fast-changing news cycle and cultural landscape, late night shows like THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON, THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH, LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER, and FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE have never been more relevant. The appetite is high, but writing for this rapid-turnaround genre is its own skill set, separate from others used throughout TV and film. Furthermore, getting hired for such a show can be particularly challenging. Yet it’s still possible. So how can you prepare yourself with for when late night writing opportunities present themselves, and can you find these opportunities in the first place?

For as ever-present as late night TV is, the industry itself can seem hard-to-know and enigmatic. It’s certainly less covered in media than other types of television. Yet if you’re interested in writing for a late night program, it’s critical to have a basic understanding of how these shows work--both the media ecosystem they exist in, and more specifically, how they are produced day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour. It’s also crucial to put together a strong, standout Late-Night Writers’ Packet, which combines a number of different elements that decision makers are looking for when hiring. If you want to pursue a career in late night writing, it’s time to learn everything you need to know to find success.

Rob Kutner is an Emmy, Peabody, and Grammy Award-winning late night television staff writer who has worked on shows like CONAN and THE DAILY SHOW. Starting out as a writers’ assistant on DENNIS MILLER LIVE, Rob is also the author of the satirical end-of-times bestseller Apocalypse How: Turn the End Times into the Best of Times! and has written material for the Oscars, Emmys, Writers’ Guild Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Guys’ Choice Awards, and two White House Correspondents’ Dinners. Rob has spent the majority of his storied career operating and thriving in the world of late night television and is ready to tell you how you can do the same.

Rob will teach you how late night television works and how you can best position yourself to find opportunities as a writer within it. He’ll begin by going over an introduction to late night television, including a brief history and overview, an examination of how late night is different than other genres, how a late night show generally works, and what a typical day on a program like this looks like. Next Rob will go through his own experiences with late night and extract the biggest lessons he’s learned from his own journey. He’ll discuss his early steps, his work as a production assistant and a writers’ assistant, and how he got his first writing gig. He’ll also go into the differences between the shows he’s worked on, including CONAN and THE DAILY SHOW. He’ll explain how he continues to find work in this space. He will then go through five ways you can find a late night writing job of your own. He will also teach you strategies you should use to better get noticed as a writer. He’ll explain the difference between “hiring” and “reading”, how to be gently persistent, and what a late night writing packet is as well as why it’s crucial. Rob will dive deep into how to put together your own late night packet and share with you the 8 different pieces you’ll need to build a packet that will get producers’ attention. He’ll explain how to make your packet look good and noticeable. Rob will even offer a live demonstration, showing how to put together a packet live. Next he will talk about how to keep your writing job once you’re staffed. He’ll explain the differences between late night and episodic production cultures and go through what the day-to-day requirements of a late night writer are. He’ll explain what the etiquette of the writers’ room is, how best to pitch your ideas, and how to take and move forward with notes that you’re given. He’ll also talk about how best to navigate the quick turnarounds that are notorious in jobs like this. Finally, Rob will go through further opportunities in the world of late night that you can explore, including finding producing opportunities and chances to actually perform on your show. Let Rob help you walk into the world of late night with your eyes open and with a collection of strategies to best find the writing opportunity you’re after.

What You'll Learn

  • Introduction to Late-Night TV
    • A brief history and overview of late night television
    • How late night is different than all other genres
    • How a late-night show works
    • A typical day
  • Rob’s Experiences with Late Night
    • Early steps
    • Production Assistant
    • Writers’ Assistant
    • The first writing gig
    • Differences between the shows
    • Getting the next job, and the next
  • 5 Ways You Can Find a Late Night Writing Job
  • Strategies to Get Noticed as a Writer
    • “Hiring” vs. “Reading”
    • Gentle persistence
    • The Packet
  • Building Your Late Night Packet
    • The eight pieces you’ll need for your own packet
    • What a good packet looks like
    • LIVE DEMONSTRATION of how to put together your own packet.
  • Keeping the Job
    • Differences between late-night and episodic production cultures
    • Day-to-day requirements of a late night writer
    • Room etiquette
    • Pitching tips
    • Taking notes
    • Navigating quick turnarounds
  • Additional Opportunities in the World of Late Night
    • Serving as a producer
    • Opportunities to perform
  • Q&A with Rob

About Your Instructor

Rob Kutner is an Emmy, Peabody, and Grammy Award-winning late night television staff writer who has worked on shows like CONAN and THE DAILY SHOW. Starting out as a writers’ assistant on DENNIS MILLER LIVE, Rob is also the author of the satirical end-of-times bestseller Apocalypse How: Turn the End Times into the Best of Times! and has written material for the Oscars, Emmys, Writers’ Guild Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Guys’ Choice Awards, and two White House Correspondents’ Dinners. Rob has spent the majority of his storied career operating and thriving in the world of late night television and is ready to tell you how you can do the same.

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