How to Write for Late Night TV

Tips from Josh Lieb, one of the producers of a little thing called THE TONIGHT SHOW:

jimmy-fallon-tonight-show-youth-group-gamesby kat rosenfield

Every comedian with a TV talk show has a behind-the-scenes team of writers whose job it is to put hilarious words into his mouth every night, thus creating the illusion that he (the comedian) is the funniest human alive.

And if that sounds like a super-cool job to you, you’ll want to check out our interview with Josh Lieb.

By day, Lieb produces one of the biggest nighttime talk shows there is; by night and weekend, he’s the creator of thrilling novels (including his latest, “Ratscalibur,” about a dude who becomes a rat and saves the world, in that order.) And when MTV News caught up with him via email, he had lots to say about the road to writing for television.

MTV News: Tell us about your work: What’s a typical day like for you?

Josh Lieb: I’m the producer of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” so I definitely have an exciting day job. I work on other projects at night and on weekends. Right now I’m picking what I want to work on next. I feel like I might try children’s poetry — or maybe a sequel to one of my books. Monday through Friday I go to 30 Rockefeller Plaza and oversee the writing, production, staff, and everything else for the “Tonight Show.” Then I get to watch this amazing show get taped at 5 o’clock, I edit it, and then I’m usually home around 8.

MTV: What has the path been like from the start of your career to where you are now?

Lieb: I thought I was going to be a poet when I was in college, but then I found out I was poor so I decided to do something I’d get paid for. I got off to a fast start in TV, writing for Jon Stewart and the sitcom “Newsradio,” Then I did a season at “The Simpsons,” and then things kind of slowed down for a while. I was in the wilderness a little, writing pilots that didn’t get made, consulting on shows here and there. Then I went back to work with Jon Stewart at the “The Daily Show,” which was great. I left to do some other stuff, and came back to New York for “Tonight.” I don’t ever want to leave.

Read it all at MTV