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January 21, 2017

Daily Show exec pursues career in stand-up

Comedians. They make us laugh, they make us cry from laughing and in the case of Rory Albanese, they help deliver the news as well.

Rory Albanese is an executive producer for “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and also does standup comedy. He helps write material for Jon Stewart, who then proceeds to take the material, uses it as mouthwash and then spits out comedy gold.

Comedy Central will be hosting a Rory Albanese standup special this Friday, April 2, at 11 p.m. Assuming that anyone reading this is still coherent enough to remember to watch it on Friday, it is a laugh riot. Caution: if you are from New Jersey or Canada, you may be offended.

Growing up on Long Island, Albanese was always good at making people laugh. Of course, sometimes he was too good, and during class he would frequently make jokes during silences that got the whole room to crack up, but got him in trouble.

For Albanese, comedy became the obvious career choice. There wasn’t really anything else he could think of doing. He began doing standup almost immediately out of college, although that took a backseat to his job at “The Daily Show.” Albanese still does standup frequently though, and even went on tour with Lewis Black in 2006.

Albanese started out as a production assistant at “The Daily Show,” fetching coffee for various staff members and serving as a footstool for Stewart when he was tired. After many years of slowly working his way up the harsh ladder that is satirical news journalism, Albanese was eventually promoted to executive producer and helped the show win two Emmys for writing in 2009.

While still beneath Stewart in terms of authority, Albanese still has some semblance of power on the show and often fires people randomly, just to show off his power. Of course he hires them right back, but it is the thought that counts.

Writing for “The Daily Show” and for his standup act are not the same though. When writing for “The Daily Show,” Albanese is writing in the voice of Stewart and he can “hide behind the guarantee that John will make it work, but it’s you, you’re kind of alone out there and you have to make it funny.” On top of that there are always days when Albanese cannot think of anything funny, but that is why the rest of the writing staff is there, all 100 of them and a few dogs and fishes.

A lot of people watch “The Daily Show” and an increasing number of college students report that ”The Daily Show” is their main news source. When asked about this Albanese said that “I get being in college and watching ‘The Daily Show’ and feeling like you got your news.” Ultimately, though, he wants young people to understand that it is a short amount of news and that the show does not cover the full scope.

“Use [‘The Daily Show’] as a launching point to do your own research,” he said.

Albanese recommends going to the library or searchingthe Internet to look into things talked about on the show. He also recommends watching multiple sources.

“If you just pick a source… then you are getting a slant. It’s not a menu, you can mix and match,” he said.

Albanese got into standup because he likes writing jokes and telling jokes. When offered to do his standup special by Comedy Central, he commented that he “wasn’t seeking it but wasn’t against it.” The special will lead to more standup shows which forces him to be creative, coming up with more new material.

“Stand-up is a trial-and-error process” according to Albanese. “The whole career is bombing. You know you’ve gotten good when you bomb and you don’t care.”

“If you are going to pursue stand-up you have to do it, it’s easy to try and you should try more than once.” Albanese also said that the advice is applicable no matter what your career is, and that you should get out of college and immediately try and achieve your dream. “It doesn’t get easier as you get older,” he said.

On one occasion Lewis Black brought him to a comedy club in New Jersey, where Albanese proceeded to give one of his worst performances to a menacing crowd. Afraid of Black’s wrath at his failure, he slunk backstage only to see Black standing there laughing hysterically. Black said, “I brought you here to bomb.”

Later, on the car ride back, Black stated that “if you bomb and you still want to do stand-up, you have got the disease.” And of course, Albanese realized the next day that he still wanted to do stand-up, thus confirming his sickness. Recently, he returned to that very same club with John Oliver, a “Daily Show” correspondent, and did a stellar show.

Oliver and Albanese are currently in the middle of writing a script for a comedy movie. Whether or not the script will make it to screen is still to be determined, but Albanese has hope.

Albanese also said that he would love to come down to any schools willing to have him perform, including the University of Massachusetts. Well, except for UMass Lowell. Amherst is cool but Lowell is not in his book.

Tappan Parker can be reached at rtparker@student.umass.edu.

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