How Letterman Should Atone: Hire Some Women Writers

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 2 2009 11:33 AM

How Letterman Should Atone: Hire Some Women Writers

Watching Letterman's

John Swansburg John Swansburg

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.

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last night, I was reminded of something I'd read earlier this week in Nancy Franklin's

of

The Jay Leno Show

in the current issue of

The
New Yorker

:



Leno's and the rest of the nighttime comedy shows are bizarrely lacking in women writers. Did a bomb go off and kill all the women comedy writers and leave the men standing? The other night on the Emmy Awards broadcast, the names of the nominees for best writing on a comedy or variety series were read, and, out of eighty-one people, only seven were women. Leno has no women writers on his show. Neither does David Letterman, and neither does Conan O'Brien. Come on .

I'd assumed that late-night comedy was a boy's club, but I was shocked to learn there isn't one female writer working on any of these shows. Letterman didn't betray many details about office life at

The Late Show

, and, who knows, maybe the program has made real efforts to hire women writers over the years. If so, they haven't been successful. Here's one way to atone for your hinky behavior, Dave: Put your eye for female talent to better use.