The Guy Who Knows All About the History of Stand-up Comedy

Wayne Federman sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Federman talks about Jimmy Fallon being his opening act, writing for Fallon’s late-night show, the significance of playing Stan Sanders in the last season of “The Larry Sanders Show,” and much more. Highlights below. 

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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Wayne Federman — 

On Jimmy Fallon being his opening act and how it led to him becoming a monologue writer for Fallon’s show: 

“What happened was – like I said – I had these two goals. So, for like, 20 years, that’s all I really focused on. And then some other doors started opening up for me. Like, I never wrote a packet… a writing packet is a writing sample, but it’s usually a number of different things, especially for late nights. So, like a lot of comedians, they write a packet. ‘These are my monologue jokes, these are desk pieces. This is maybe a sketch Conan could do.’ And you submit these. [I] never did anything like that. I didn’t want any brain power that wasn’t used for either writing new stand-up material or doing my act. But then, maybe 20 years in, other doors started opening. The Pete Maravich book. Another one was Jimmy Fallon opening for me. He’s my opening act. Yeah. And he was getting ready to host, to take over for Conan. And then so, Lorne Michaels wanted to send him out on the road just to, you know, get his chops up, just so he’s comfortable in front of a crowd again, and because he had this film career that didn’t quite go the way he wanted it to. And so he opened for me and then we would write together, during the day, new material for him. And Robin, he’s one of the easiest people in the world to write for, because he’s ridiculously talented. He does clean stuff. That’s my expertise. And, he can do impressions. He can do songs. He can dance. He can – you know, there’s a million things that he can pull out of his, you know, arrows out of his quiver. It’s phenomenal. So after a while, I started opening for him once we got enough time, right? And then he asked me if I want to do this job and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, let’s walk through that door.’ And so that’s how that happened.”

On how he landed the role of Stan on “The Larry Sanders Show”: 
“Very lucky. I had auditioned for it and didn’t get it. And then, there was another part. I guess I impressed Garry [Shandling], and he thought I’d be good for it. So he brought me in, I read, and I got it. And it’s the part of his brother on the final season of ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ The final season, so I was – couldn’t believe it to this day, even talking about it now, it almost seems like a dream. To play as his brother, Stan Sanders. And later, I found out when I worked on the documentary, and co-produced ‘The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling,’ that he had a brother in real life that died when he was a kid. And it was a very traumatic experience for him. His brother’s name was Barry. And so, looking back, like, ‘Oh, I played his brother.’ And it added a whole different dimension. I hope I’m explaining that correctly. But yeah, so that was incredible. Incredible. I couldn’t believe it.”

On what it’s like writing for late-night television: 
“Well, it’s a lot going on. Basically, you have to prepare a monologue every day during the week for the show. And it’s based primarily on the news items of that day. So, the night before, we send out what’s called premises, and then there’s more premises. So we’ll write like, ‘Oh, Barack Obama visited Ireland,’ and that would be one, and then funny things that would happen in the news. And then we had a team of writers, including Anthony Jeselnik, including Morgan Murphy, including Jeremy Bronson, just some great writers. And they’d submit jokes and I collate them, pick out the best ones, put them in Jimmy [Fallon]’s voice, the rhythm of his voice, and just narrow it down to, like, the perfect kind of joke. Submit them to him, he’d go, ‘No, no, yes. No, yes. No, no, no. Yes. No.’ And then we do some more, put them on cards, and then he’d do it. And then, the next day, the whole process starts again… The internet had already burst. So we had Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, we had all the papers, all the papers were delivered. USA Today, Wall Street Journal, so we had more than enough topics. But no, we did not have that. And so, that’s what we had to do. And it was extremely exciting. For like, I don’t know, five months, as we, like, figured it out. And then it became – I hate to say it, because this is gonna sound like I’m ungrateful. It’s not, it just became a little bit of a ‘Groundhog Day’ thing. Like, ‘Oh, that was a great monologue. Time to do another one…’ A lot of grind. I don’t like waking up in the morning. So anyway, I didn’t last that long. I lasted, like, a year there. A little over a year, and that was it.”


More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at

Upcoming guests include Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud,” “Through the Eyes of Love”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), and Tramell Tillman (“Severance”).

Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”). 

More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit