As a kid, I remember hearing that anyone could submit a joke to Saturday Night Live, and if they used your joke on Weekend Update, they would pay you $100.
I didn’t actually have any jokes, and I didn’t even know how to submit the joke — I probably thought it was enough to write “Saturday Night Live” on an envelope and the mailman would take care of the rest — but I always just assumed it would be easy to come up with one killer joke.
Turns out it might not be so easy to get a joke on TV…shocking, I know.
On Marc Maron’s podcast, comedian Anthony Jeselnik told a story about when he was a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Each day, in preparation for the show, Jeselnik said he would write 70 jokes a day.
Hardly any of them were used,” Jeselnik said. “But I had to write 70 jokes a day.”
70 jokes a day! That sounds impossible. And what’s even more, knowing that 99% of them probably will just be thrown away and never seen on the show, that has to be intimidating.
Jeselnik didn’t say it, but I doubt Jimmy Fallon gave him an assignment of writing 70 jokes a day. More likely, Jeselnik knew that was what it took to improve at his craft and stay competitive at work.
According to IMDB, he was a writer for Jimmy Fallon for 145 shows. That is about 10,150 jokes that Jeselnik came up with, roughly 10,000 jokes that never saw the light of day.
After a stint as the host of Last Comic Standing, and the release of his second Netfix comedy special, it is clear that Jelselnik’s hard work has paid off.
Want to get good at writing jokes? Try writing more than 10,000 jokes in half a year. You won’t help but become a better writer