Ask A Striking Writer

by admin November 18, 2007
Ask A Striking Writer

Sars interviewed Daily Show writer Rob Kutner Monday, November 12.

Sars: Let's get started with a little résumé information -- during non-strike times, what is your name and where do you work?

Rob Kutner: I'm Rob Kutner, and I'm a writer for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Sars: And what does that mean in terms of your day-to-day schedule? Can you give us an outline of what you do, day-to-day?

Kutner: I'm not gonna lie to you, it makes me a little sad to call it that right now, because I'd like to be doing it, but my normal day-to-day schedule is the writers all come in at nine in the morning, and we watch a couple of pieces of video -- we subscribe to an AP newswire service for video, same as a lot of news stations do -- we watch a few of the day's stories, see which ones have the best footage, which have the best sound bites, which seem the most important, which we haven't hammered too much before during the week. Then we divide up into various work groups, and individual people will write the headlines -- several people will write the same headline, and they'll pick the same, they'll pick their favorite jokes out of those. ...Is this too much detail?

Sars: No no, not at all.

Kutner: All right -- they'll pick their favorite jokes out of those and make the headline, other people will pair off and work on the chats, which are what we call the dialogues between Jon and the correspondent, either on the green screen or at the desk, and then other people will sort of work on whatever else needs to be done, whether it's brainstorming ideas or jokes for a field piece or writing the wraparounds for our global edition, or any number of other sort of little tasks. So, essentially a rotating schedule of ad hoc assignments every day, culminating in the taping of the show -- sorry, rather, the rehearsal of the show, which we do about four-thirty, at which point jokes are sort of given their tryouts, and then if they need other ones, we stick around and contribute those. And then they tape the show about six o'clock, six-fifteen, and that's about the end of our day.

Sars: How long have you been doing that?

Kutner: I've been there five years. I actually started -- my first day was the day before the midterm elections in 2002, which, we usually do elections as a live show, so, bit of a trial by fire for me.

Sars: I was just going to say. So now what is your day-to-day schedule like, during the strike? Are you on the line every day? How does that work?

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