I spent the entire week cramming for a big important project, and completely forgot to make time for my weekly journal. So instead of original comedic content this week, you get a sneak peak into the big important project I’ve been working on.
As you may or may not know, I really really really want to be a full time staff writer for a late night TV show. That’s where my passion, interest, and talent collide. So I just applied for the NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop, literally minutes ago… 10 minutes before the midnight deadline because perfection paralysis is the freaking worst! But it got done! It’s submitted! And praise be to the comedy gods for making this happen!
My submission packet included 2 pages of monologue jokes, 1 page of desk bits, 2 SNL type sketches that were 5 pages each, a letter of recommendation from an emmy-nominated writer and actress, a resume, a bio, 3 essay questions, and an awkward release form that basically gave away my rights to the content in the packet, but oh well, totally worth it. This project took all the space in my head this week, while fighting the flu, and I’m so glad it’s done and submitted! Whew!
The workshop is super important to me because it’s a program that selects 6 people from diverse backgrounds (out of 1000s of applicants) to help them get their foot in the door with late night TV. It’s a week long workshop that they host for free in NYC, and introduce you to the NBC writers out there including Fallon, Meyers, and wait for it… SNL! I know, I’m dying just thinking about it! Please send me all the good vibes to help me get an interview and ultimately a seat at the table in March. It would be a dream come true! :)
I promised you a glimpse, so I thought it would be fun if I shared with you the answers to my essay questions from the application. It’s more insightful than comical this week, but definitely entertaining, if I do say so myself. And without further ado, I give you my responses…
// WHAT UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE WOULD YOU BRING TO WRITING FOR LATE NIGHT TV?
As a first generation Arab-American immigrant woman of Muslim parents, I bring to the writing table a desire to increase awareness around certain topics that might typically get missed by someone who didn’t experience life the way I did. As someone who quickly learned to assimilate as an American at 5, experience the bliss of US citizenship at 16, and finally finding my place as a woman in comedy at 37, I can guarantee that my stories will be unique and my perspective will be fruitful.
I fell in love with Late Night TV later in life when I stumbled upon The Daily Show with John Stewart. At the time, I never considered it Late Night TV because I always caught the replay on my DVR the next day. I remember feeling at home with The Daily Show. It offered a perspective that was in alignment with my own experience and understanding of the world. And the icing on the cake was that Arabs and Muslims were rarely mocked or villainized, and sometimes even portrayed as positive contributors to society.
It was refreshing and comforting to feel that level of respect when everyone else targeted people like me. And because of that experience, I’m driven to create content that helps people feel more accepted and appreciated, seen and heard, regardless of their ethnic background. Most of my written work reflects this, and I look forward to creating more work on a consistent basis in the field of Late Night Writing.
// WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE AND WHY?
Socially Awkward Arab: The Trials and Tribulations of a Middle Eastern Woman Assimilating in a Western World
Oh my goodness! I used to hate my life. Assimilating was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a child, teenager, and even now as an adult. Trying hard to balance my need to be accepted by my American friends, while following the strict cultural rules that my Arab parents enforced at home. My life was the perfect incubator of entertaining stories for this comedy writer.
I’m actually already planning on writing my first memoir this year to document all the horrifically hilarious stories of my life where I struggled to fit in, including the following:
— How I insisted on having my first American birthday party at Denny’s because I overheard someone say it was cool, spilling my root beer on my white dress, and ripping the loudest fart.
— The time my parents enrolled me in Catholic school in 7th grade and the culture shock that ensued, followed by getting bullied. Then transferred to a militant Islamic school 3 months later, another culture shock, and getting bullied. Yay!
— The joys of high school, with a 5pm curfew, no dating or dances, and begging freshmen to take me to senior prom because it was the only dance I was allowed go to. Spoiler alert: I didn’t go.
I am so grateful for my colorful journey because it produces excellent comedy, especially in today’s growingly diverse audience.
// TELL US WHOSE HUMOR YOU THINK IS UNDERRATED AND WHY
If you did a Google search right now for “Late Night TV”, you’ll see a stream of images and links for all male hosts, including hosts from decades ago who have since retired or passed away. But you don’t see any female hosts pop up.
With that said, I think Samantha Bee is highly underrated. Aaaaaaand you probably saw that response coming. Predictable, I know. And possibly preaching to the choir, but I’ll do it anyway.
Samantha Bee is the avatar for smart intelligent women in comedy who want to use their powers for good. She uses her valuable once a week televised real estate slot to produce content that agitates, aggravates, and even aggregates the weekly current events that people are turning a blind eye to. She keeps it real, and she does it authentically and unapologetically.
If she were a man, this wouldn’t even be a thing, but her behavior is criticized for being un-lady like, and she doesn’t let it stop her from speaking out.
I admire her as a host for creating a platform to call out the trouble makers, help the helpless, and do it all in way that’s creatively and consistently comical. I admire how she hires diverse female writers and gives them a platform to showcase their talents and opinions. I admire how she scored her own Late Night TV show in a male-dominated world.
I’ve been a fan of hers ever since she was a correspondent on The Daily Show. I remember thinking how odd it was that her character was always so satirical that it came across as too real. I wondered why she had to hide her opinions behind that guise, but I still enjoyed it. And now I appreciate the transition she’s made from the satirical correspondent to the authentic version of herself on Full Frontal. She still gets to make the same punches, but from a place of power rather than hiding behind a character. It’s wonderful and inspiring to see.
As I’m writing this, I realize that she may have sparked my desire to become a Late Night comedy writer. A few weeks after the launch of her show, I signed up for a class on writing for Late Night TV and Talk Shows, and I remember citing her name in our first class as my favorite Late Night Host. Not even realizing that she inspired me to dive into late night writing is further proof that she is underrated. I completely forgot to give her credit this past year. Wow.
I’ll wrap this up by saying Samantha Bee is a role model and mentor to several women out in the world, who may or may not know it yet. She deserves all kinds of glitzy awards, but most importantly she deserves the same amount of respect the other guys get, if not more. Or at the very least, have her name come up in a Google search for Late Night TV hosts. It’s about time, people!
// THE MORAL OF THE STORY
I’ll keep it short and sweet… Follow your freaking dreams! And OMG Do It Now!
May the cackle be with you…
PS: Did you know you can access the Mirror Mirror archives by clicking here? You’re welcome!
// NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO DISH
Let me know what you thought about this week’s Mirror Mirror. What kind of thoughts, opinions or confusion did it create for you? If you’d like to spark up a discussion, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, say what you need to say, and let’s make it happen. I’d love to hear from you!
// SEEKING CONSTANT APPROVAL
Even though I hate social media, I’m constantly sucked into it for narcissistic relief, so let’s connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. That way, I can talk about myself, and you can like, follow, and heart. I may or may not reciprocate, depending on how self-absorbed I’m feeling on any given day.
// SOME WORDS ABOUT ME
I’m a comedy writer, self-help author, and podcast host. As a Second City trained comedian I love to write jokes, perform improv, and produce shows. With my books on Amazon, I empower readers everywhere to access their inner magic. You can also find me interviewing fellow authors from all over the world with my She Wrote A Book podcast. And I’ve been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. My obsessions include karaoke, my furbaby, and everything Disney.
// LEGAL STUFF
I may get commissions for purchases made through some of the links included in this email or on my website. The suits told me I had to let you know about this so you don’t throw a tantrum about it later.