Former SNL Writer to Share Comedy Secrets

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Gilmore Girls, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Saturday Night Live and Sesame Street all have one common factor: Comedian, actor and writer Michael C. McCarthy has contributed on and off-screen to each.

On Friday, McCarthy will lead a workshop about writing a Saturday Night Live sketch packet from 3 to 5 p.m. in Room 639 in the Radio-TV Building. 

The WOUB Alumni Society organized the Homecoming event. The workshop is free, but space is limited.

“The WOUB Alumni Society has made it a point to plan Homecoming activities that will attract alumni back to Athens, and along with that, we want to create presentations in cooperation with the School of Media Arts and Studies and WOUB for students to interact with alumni,” said Rich Rarey, a manager for Strategic Technology Applications at NPR Labs and WOUB Alumni board member.

Rarey met McCarthy while they were working for the Fox-Paw radio comedy troupe at OU.

“Since the Fox-Paw radio comedy troupe had reconnected on Facebook and decided to stage a reunion show in Athens on Saturday, it was natural to contact Eric Williams of the (School of Media Arts and Studies) and arrange a presentation by Michael on what Michael knows best: writing for SNL and TV comedy,” Rarey said.

McCarthy plans to discuss the balance between art and commerce, what goes into an SNL package and how to present oneself to an agent for consideration. He will also address the basic elements of sketch writing for a specific base such as SNL.

Students interested in comedy said they hope to gain from McCarthy’s experience.

“I’d just like to hear any advice from someone who’s lived and experienced the adventures of comedy,” said Joe Lalonde, a junior studying video production who is involved with OU Improv, Blue Pencil Comedy and the sketch comedy group Baby Mountain. “I’d love to find out how to prepare for a career and then any advice for when I graduate to enter the comedy world would be great. Also, if he made any mistakes that I could avoid, well, that wouldn’t be bad either.”

McCarthy said he owes much of his success to an internship with Second City during his time at OU.

At the age of 24, McCarthy had the opportunity to write for SNL. Jim Belushi performed one of his favorite pieces, which his OU experience inspired.

“I was on campus during the hippie movement, and then suddenly, it became very conservative,” he said. “People were getting haircuts and dressing well.

There were a lot of folk singers singing all over campus. I wrote a sketch about a guy who took about five minutes to tune his guitar and then proceeded to sing whale songs by simply making whale noises. It was pretty much my effort at making fun of stoned folk singers.”

McCarthy said he is looking forward to returning to OU for the Fox-Paw comedy radio troupe reunion and witnessing the fall weather.

“My advice to students is this: First, determine which kind,” he said. “If you want to write, come to LA. If you want to go on to a place like SNL, go to Chicago or New York. You pay to learn how to do it, then you do it for free, then you get paid to do it. Nobody skips those three beats. Think of it as being a pilot. You have to log hours in the air and prove yourself before people let you fly across the world.”


Story courtesy of The Post