Bryan Tucker is setting a high bar for Richmond comedy writers.
The Clover Hill High School and University of North Carolina graduate -- profiled in this 2008 Style cover story -- has been promoted to head writer at “Saturday Night Live.”
In his ninth season, Tucker joins head writers Colin Jost (new anchor of “Weekend Update” segment) and Rob Klein. He arrives in the wake of writer/cast member Seth Meyers’ departure to his own late night talk show.
Tucker, 42, says his duties haven’t changed that much, but there is more prestige. “There’s a little more responsibility to help out younger writers and cast and a little more access to make decisions about what gets on the show, who gets hired,” Tucker says, during a break from writing promos and discussing show ideas with host Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls.” “It’s very regimented here. Everyone knows their roles, and each Monday is pretty similar to the next.”
One unusual bump this season: The show was criticized in the media for rarely having black female cast members. The writers found a way to address it in host Kerry Washington’s cold open sketch -- having her play Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in the same scene.
“We had talked about how it was probably best not to address it, because it would make the story bigger, but Seth [Meyers] had this idea to make fun of ourselves,” Tucker says. “The talent department was already looking at people to cast, so we knew that eventually it would be followed up with action.” University of Virginia graduate Sasheer Zamata is now a featured player.
Tucker came into the show with cast members Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Andy Samberg, all of whom have left in recent years. He’s now tied with Jost for second-longest tenured current writer on the show, though he adds that some producers who started as writers have been there longer. Tucker was closest with fellow basketball fan Sudeikis, and he says they keep in touch although the actor has moved to Los Angeles.
“What I’m really enjoying about this season is some of the cast who’ve been there a little bit -- Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, Jay Pharoah -- people are starting to know their names,” he says. “Jay’s from Norfolk, and my mom lived around Virginia Beach for awhile, so we talk about Virginia all the time.”
Tucker helped out with jokes on the film “The Heat” and currently has outside projects that include a pilot with Comedy Central, a movie script and an online sports comedy with Fox Sports 1.
He can’t spill the beans on upcoming “SNL” hosts, though he does give a little when asked whether we will soon get a Kevin Spacey and a “House of Cards” sketch. “He’s definitely in the mix. There’ve been a couple things written that haven’t gotten on the show, yet -- maybe this week.”