Bryan Tucker, a UNC alumnus and writer for “Saturday Night Live,” will give a lecture tonight discussing the presidential election in a comedic light.
Staff writer Sierra Wingate-Bey spoke with Tucker about his time at SNL, memorable sketches and his path to success.
SEE THE LECTURE
TIME: 7:30 p.m. today
LOCATION: Top of the Hill’s Back Bar
LIVE STREAM: http://bit.ly/UOZz7L
DAILY TAR HEEL: How did you end up at SNL?
BRYAN TUCKER: It was kind of a long road. I started at Carolina doing Student Television and performing around campus with a sketch improv group.
In 1999, I got a job writing for “The Chris Rock Show” on HBO, and that was my first job. That helped me get an agent and some credibility.
That job led to other jobs like “MADtv” and “Chappelle’s Show.” I got a job at SNL in 2005, and I’ve been there ever since.
DTH: Was there a major turning point in your career?
BT: A big turning point was where I could quit being a waiter, and that happened after I had been in New York for about a year and a half and was doing stand up. Feeling like you can make a living off of it is a huge relief.
Getting on “Chappelle’s Show” was a really big break for me because so many people knew and liked that show.
But all of those are little steps that eventually add up to a whole career. It’s very rare that you get one big step that opens everything up.
DTH: What do you enjoy most about writing for SNL?
BT: I really like the live element of it. There’s nothing much like it. It’s just really cool that we’re writing, rewriting up until the show goes on.
Also the history of it is really cool to be a part of. Being here, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of comedy idols. I’ve written sketches for Steve Martin, for Jim Carrey. I’ve gotten to meet Barack Obama.
Working with a new celebrity every week adds an unpredictable element.
DTH: Which celebrity host has surprised you the most?
BT: They’re always surprising — they come in on Monday and we write all their stuff on Tuesday, so you don’t really get to know them very well.
People in sports like LeBron James or Eli Manning, you’re just never sure what they’re going to be capable of doing. We had Bruno Mars on this year, and he was a pleasant surprise.
DTH: What are some memorable sketches you’ve written for SNL?
BT: Probably what people remember is the “What Up With That” sketch with Kenan Thompson, which was written by me, Kenan and Rob Klein.
Last year I wrote a sketch where Jesus Christ talks to Tim Tebow, which got kind of noted and acclaimed. I’m one of two or three writers who usually write a lot of the political things.
DTH: Did you ever expect to reach this level of success?
BT: Not really. It’s not that I didn’t expect it, I just didn’t know anybody who did something like that, so I didn’t think that I would do something like that.
I thought I might just be a journalist, but I always wanted to be a TV comedy writer. I just didn’t have a model to model myself after.
I had hoped for it and I wanted it, I just didn’t know how to put myself on a track to get it.
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