NBC has unveiled the new class for its annual Late Night Writers Workshop. Out of a pool of 900 candidates, writers Brandon Burkhart, Gracie Canaan, Reem Edan, Kyle Harris, Emily Menez, Sam O and Kate Sisk have been named as this year’s participants for the workshop.
The new class participated in an intensive virtual five-day program that prepared them for staff writer roles on late night and sketch comedy shows. Now in its eighth year, the program helps bolster NBC’s inclusive initiatives by discovering developing late night and sketch comedy writers of diverse backgrounds.
“Over the past eight years, the Late Night Writers Workshop has made a significant impact on the late night and sketch comedy landscape. Many of our alumni now write for top shows across the industry, and we are confident this new class of talented writers will follow suit,” said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Co-Presidents, Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment. “The current seismic shift in our culture has illuminated how critical it is to include the lens of diverse people to provide cultural context to current events. These writers will enter the industry at a time where their voices are needed now more than ever.”
Alumni from the program have gone on to become producers and writers on top late night and sketch comedy shows. Writers from last year’s class included Mona Mira, who was staffed on A Little Late with Lilly Singh as well as Chloe Radcliffe who joined The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Other alums include Jenny Hagel (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Eddie Mujica (Connecting), Greg Iwinski (Last Week Tonight), Kate Sidley (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and Alison Tafel (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon).
The virtual workshop was organized and facilitated by Grace Moss and Will Schnabel of NBC’s Programming Talent Development and Inclusion team. The participants received an in-depth look at writing on late night and sketch comedy shows through virtual seminars and guest speakers. This year, the class heard from Katie Hockmeyer, Executive Vice President, Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment in addition to writers from top late night shows, including Chelsea Davison (A Little Late with Lilly Singh), Mark Kramer (Last Week Tonight), Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Naima Pearce (Tooning Out the News) and writer-comedian Emily Winter. In addition, program alumni served as guest speakers.
Each session also consisted of writing instruction, insightful feedback and collaborative assignments that mirror the late night comedy writing experience. The writers ended the program with new sketch material and insight into the dynamics of a late night writers’ room. Following the program, NBC will continue to advocate for each of the program writers by putting them up for open staffing positions on the network’s late night shows and helping them secure representation.
Read bios of this year’s participants below.
Burkhart is a Los Angeles-based Latinx comedy writer who hails from San Antonio, Texas. For the past three years, he’s been head writer for the late night show The Night Cap with Stacy Rumaker, which in pre-pandemic times ran monthly at the Virgil in East Hollywood. His sketches have been featured at Comedy Central Stage, San Francisco Sketchfest, Second City’s LA Diversity in Comedy Festival and the Hollywood Fringe Festival. As a storyteller, he has won the Moth StorySLAM four times, including the Moth GrandSLAM. His sci-fi sitcom pilot “Mars Bar” won third place in the 2020 Cinequest Screenwriting Competition and is a Semi-Finalist in the 2020 PAGE Awards and a Top 100 Finalist in the 2020 Launch Pad Pilot Competition.
Canaan is a stand-up comedian and writer living in New York. She has performed at notable festivals, including San Francisco Sketchfest and Laugh Your Asheville Off, and has written and produced sketches that have appeared on Funny or Die! and the Quickie Film Festival. Her work was chosen as an Official Selection in the Twister Alley Film Festival and her original half-hour sitcom “Booties” received the Just4Shorts Best Television Script Award in May.
Edan is an Iraqi-American comedian, writer, actress and digital content creator known for her unique brand of “Muslim-ennial” humor. Since leaving a career in film marketing, she’s performed at venues and colleges across the U.S., Europe and Middle East, and opened for comics including Iliza Schlesinger and Arsenio Hall. Edan is an alumni of the MGM Writing Program, a two-time Groundlings scholarship recipient, and has worked with brands such as WhoHaha (Elizabeth Banks) and SWAAY Media to elevate female stories. Credits include: Winner of the Fimmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards (2019) and the Create the Writer’s Room challenge (2020), and recently being named one of Bustle’s “5 Muslim Women Comedians to Get You Through Social Distancing.” Edan is repped by Avalon Management, APA and H2F Productions.
Boston native Harris is a writer and comedian based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He began stand-up and sketch comedy in Philadelphia where he performed in a local Comedy Central Showcase and opened for Chris Redd (Saturday Night Live). He moved to New York in 2019 where he would go on to write for NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, perform in the NY Comedy Festival, and put on character performances at Brooklyn Comedy Collective. Harris has also written for various satire publications, including Flexx Mag and The Onion.
Menez began her career as a script intern for season 38 of Saturday Night Live. She has since gone on to write for IFC, Funny or Die and CBS. Menez trained at the Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade. Her original plays and sketch shows have been staged throughout NYC, including Margene Salt, which was performed at the Duke Theater. Menez has appeared on Rachael Ray and The Doctors to discuss nachos and coffee, respectively. She hails from Overland Park, Kansas, which is the best part of the Midwest.
O is a writer-comedian born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in California. O’s scripts have been recognized by the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Film Festival, and Launch Pad. O has written on Maude Night at the UCB Theater in Los Angeles, and created and starred in the music festival parody show, Flayme Fest. O is part of the Asian-American comedy collective, Asian AF, and has performed at SF Sketchfest, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and the Comedy Central Stage. O identifies as queer, Korean and a California gurl.
Sisk is a Massachusetts-born comic and writer. After competing with the Puerto Rico National Soccer Team in 2014-15, Sisk moved to New York City and began improvising at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. As a comic, Sisk is known for stand up about gender identity and life as a retired athlete, which has landed Sisk appearances in HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival and the Finals of the Boston Comedy Festival. Sisk is also a contributing writer for various online satire publications. Sisk is repped by Finer Entertainment Company, LLC.