Conan Writer Todd Levin on Why Some Jokes Just Bomb


Conan writer Todd Levin’s “Just Like That But Funny” essay for Good magazine explains point-by-point what can and will go wrong when you’re working in the “volume-driven business” of a daily comedy show. There are so many fail factors at play when you’re cranking out sketches at such a rapid rate, he writes, like for example, poor acting, unforeseen bloopers like botched dialogue or “subpar” puppetry, the inability to perceive the crappiness of one’s own work and, of course, the propensity for comedy writers to go too dark. “If there were a late-night comedy show completely run by comedy writers, without any interference from a host, producer, or network, that show would probably be called The Darkest and Most Impossibly Horrible Things You Can Imagine, Presented as Comedy,” Levin writes, explaining how suggestions for Conan’s farewell episode before moving to Late Night ranged from brutal bus accident to horse masturbation alternate reality. Oh, and as a side note: don’t get Levin started on elderly Asian actors, unless you want him stroke out.