6 Vital Lessons... And Two Sh**ty Things I Learned About Life While Writing Thousands Of Jokes For TV

After writing thousands of jokes in my free during my early 20s, below is the first joke I wrote that was told on TV. Dennis Miller did it on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update in 1990.

"American Airlines announced a plan to raise cash: frequent flights traveling shorter distances. Not sure it's a great idea. Starting tomorrow, every 15 minutes, you can fly from New York's LaGuardia Airport all the way to.... Kennedy Airport."

Is that my best work? Is it the funniest joke ever? Does it even make people laugh today? I have no fucking idea (although my guess is: It sucks). What I can say with 100% certainty is this: Dennis Miller said these words on Saturday Night Live in 1990... and I still have the cue-cards to prove it. In fact, I've written literally thousands of jokes for Bill Maher, Craig Kilborn, Dennis Miller, Rosie O'Donnell, Penn and Teller and Larry David (among others), some of them were great, many of them just awful... and the rest workman like. While I did all of this writing, I also learned a few things... as well as napped quite a bit. However, during the moments I was lucid, not writing jokes and not on my phone, I made a few observations about life. Here goes...


15 years ago, I made a conscious decision to dress the same way every day: white t-shirt, baseball hat, jeans. There were several reasons: € I am missing the gene for style. Plus, my affection for white T-shirt, hat and jeans ensured that I'd never show up to any public place in those baggy MC Hammer pants that were briefly popular. You know, unless I was on a gig that required back up dancing. € I hated wasting time in the morning putting an "outfit" together - which invariably made my wife roll her eyes and say things like, "is that what you're wearing, idiot?" € I realized early on that human decision making prowess is a lot like gas in your car, in that over the course of the day, our ability to make good decisions is depleted based on how many decisions we made previously. So, if I cut down on the early day decisions, I would have enough mental reserves (or gas) to make better decisions at the end of the day. The point is, white t-shirt, hat, jeans is who I was and still am... Regardless of what I'm doing, whether it's going to the office, a dinner party, directing a TV show, casting for the Playboy TV series I created, or going to a meeting at the network where I ask them to trust me with a million dollars (the show's budget), I'll be dressed the same. Clothes do not make you who you are. Your actions do. Unless you're on that RuPaul show, in which case, all bets are off.

Jon Hotchkiss makes TV. You can discover more @ about.me/jonhotchkiss