It helps that Williams is a student of the form. Fey accuses him of having “a nerdy obsession with comedy,” the kind you typically find among comedians. Williams confesses that while he dreamed of being Cronkite as a kid, he stayed up to watch Carson every night he was allowed to. He pored over the work of Pryor and Kinison. He sent away for Saturday Night Live tickets after watching the premiere episode. (He got them and attended a season-two episode that, according to Williams, Lorne Michaels still considers one of the worst nights in the show’s 36-year run. Broderick Crawford hosted.)Williams told me he occasionally marks up 30 Rock scripts because the material they want him to do is too risqué. Fey confirmed that she gets notes from the anchor — with suggestions on how to improve the jokes.
For those of us in the generation that never thinks to get its news from a nightly network newscast, Brian Williams is known more as a guy who makes reliably hilarious cameos in various NBC shows, most notably 30 Rock and Late Night, than a trusted news anchor. And he seems OK with that. New York profiles the newsman this week, looking at his comedic sensibilities and ambitions.I for one support BriWi’s comedic ambitions wholeheartedly. After all, these days being a comedian seems like a downright responsible career choice when compared to network news anchor.