Q&A: SNL Writer Alan Zweibel Returns Home

Speaks with Patch about his career, his connection to the Five Towns and his upcoming signing.

Alan Zweibel, a former Saturday Night Live writer and Five Towns native, recently spoke with Patch about his upcoming at this Saturday night.

What do you remember about living in the Five Towns community, and do you feel that it shaped your comedy career?

Well I moved when I was 15. I went to and I had a great time. I loved it. I played ball there and I had a lot of friends. As far as the comedy part is concerned, I got a lot of that when I worked at the beach clubs in Atlantic Beach. I was a cabana boy for a number of summers. [laughs] I found those people to be quite interesting and I actually started writing jokes there in those years. Also, in Hewlett High School I would write some fun stuff, usually to explain to a teacher why I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do.

How were you discovered by Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live? 

I moved back in with my parents after college. We lived in Woodmere. Billy Crystal lived in Long Beach and we would go to the clubs. My plan was to tell the jokes with the hopes that somebody would come in and give me a job. 

One night I got off the stage, I had a hard time making six drunks from Des Moine laugh, I went to the bar and I was waiting for Billy to get off the stage so I could get my ride home. Lorne Michaels sat next to me, he liked my material and he wanted to see more of it. It was the material that I typed up, about 1,100 jokes, at my mom and dad’s kitchen table in Woodmere. It was by virtue of those jokes that he gave me a job at this new show that was going to air in the fall called Saturday Night Live.

How would you describe writing for SNL along some of the greatest comedians of all time? 

Gilda Radner was my buddy, we became fast friends and she became my writing partner. We helped create some characters for her like Emily Litella and Roseanne Roseannadanna, and I wrote The Samurai for John Belushi. These were comedic geniuses and really good improv players. We were just trying to make each other laugh and we put it on TV. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my whole career to have worked with some legendary people.

Why did you choose Congregation Sons of Israel for your event in the Five Towns?

They called me. The book tour is over. I was on David Letterman and on all the TV shows promoting it [Lunatics], and the called me one day a few months ago. I loved being there back then. That was our temple, so I went, “OK fine.” 

Larry David, Billy Crystal, Garry Shandling, Rob Reiner and David Letterman all put together this very funny tape, I’ll talk for about an hour, then take questions and then I’m signing books.

Can you give me an example of a $7 joke? 

The first joke I ever sold was about a Hasidic orgy, which was unusual ‘cause the men were on one side of the room and the women were on the other. That was a huge hit for a Jewish Catskills comedian.


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