Monday, May 25, 2015

My Year as a Page for The Late Show with David Letterman Part 4 of 7

From Intern to Page
Close enough
Like any entertainment venue, The Last Show made a habit of exploiting this concept of free labor called interns.  The interns would gain hands on TV experience by doing all the crap work no one getting paid wants to do.  Some perks were that the interns could roam around the studio with a bit more freedom than the pages.  They also got to shift through a box and help themselves to some free promotional items.   The perk of being a page was you actually got paid for all the work you did.  If there was an intern who was particularly liked by the staff they would give him a job as a page. 

The pages who were previously interns were their own little clique.  They bonded by interning together and also dealing with the same people running the intern program.  From the stories they told the folks running the intern program were some characters.  Since it’s all hearsay I won’t include the stories.  Another perk the interns got was getting the rundown of the who’s who at The Late Show.  They were able to become chummy with the head writer and lucky enough to apply and submit writing samples.  If he liked what they submitted they would be allowed to submit monologue jokes on a freelance bases.  If their jokes were picked they’d get a check for $75.  For a writer, the opportunity to have your work assessed by a “professional” is intriguing. 

I can't find a photo that fits the topic so just watch this music video of Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield.

Ben Schwartz made a website called out of his joke submissions that never made it on Letterman.  The website assisted in increasing his social media popularity and then overall acting demand. 

I asked a few pages who the magical man was that could possibly let me submit monologue jokes.  The pages would always reply the magical man wasn’t accepting any more applications for freelance joke writers.  This would have been believable is it wasn’t for the fact that every other new page talked about the monologue jokes they were submitting. All I wanted to do was meet the guy and see for myself.  I wasn’t looking for them to give me a professional reference on my writing ability. What would be the harm in pointing the man out to me or heaven forbid introduce us.  Well it turns out that the more submissions for jokes there are the less chance that a freelance writer’s joke will get picked.  None of the freelancers wanted extra competition for their submissions.  I guess I should feel complimented that they believed I was funny enough to get accepted as a freelance writer.  [NOTE TO SELF: INSERT SOME FUNNY ONE LINER ABOUT PENIS SIZE OR SOMETHING].  My other idea was to wander the halls of the office asking everyone if they were writers for the show and how could I become one too.  Sadly doing stuff like that in an office tends to get people in trouble. 

I was hoping to wave down the warm-up guy Eddie Brill in the hopes that he might point me in the right direction but I could never find the guy when he wasn’t ass over backwards busy.  The warm-up guy was the guy who would tell a few jokes before The Late Show started to get the audience relaxed and ready for some hour of wacky fun times.  So after all the dots are sat upfront and the 2s are tossed in the balcony Eddie Brill would come out and do a little standup bit.  He did the same exact standup routine every night.  It was perfect B comedy material that got the same range of chuckles every time.  It was super redundant for the people working in the studio but we weren’t there to be entertained, the audience was, we were there to work. 

Why are we always told when Sue Simmons takes a vacation?  Who's sitting around wondering why the local news anchor isn't on the show one night?
We get  our weather from meteorologist. They're dude's that study meteors, what do they know about the weather?
He did the same routine EVERY DAMN NIGHT!
Brill was also the guy that gave money to any audience member wearing a Late Show t-shirt.  During the warm-up Letterman would come on stage and do some quick banter with the audience.  If he noticed an audience member wearing a Late Show shirt, he’d call them out on it and highlight how overpriced the shirts were at the CBS store.  He’d instruct Brill to pay the fan for the clothing.  Brill would reach onto his pocket and pull out a $100 for the person.  It was the page’s job to make sure anyone wearing Late Show paraphernalia was 2ed and sent to the balcony.  People could easily slip by in the winter when they were wearing coats.  He must have given out about $300-$400 when I worked there. I hope Brill remembered to expense those cash giveaways. 

Another classic staple of the warm-up was a video showing highlights of Letterman’s best moments.  For any of you who saw the final show it looks like they reused that warm-up video when Letterman cut to his best moments throughout the years. 

How many times did they dig this Taco Bell clip out of the closet over the years?

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