As far as prestigious jobs in the cutthroat world of professional comedy writing go, head writer for The Tonight Show is pretty tough to beat. It does come with a hefty drawback, though, i.e., you have to think a whole lot about current events, and specifically, the bloated whale carcass that rests atop them, Donald Trump.
Such was, reportedly, at least part of the last straw for Tonight Show head writer Rebecca Drysdale, who announced today—via a Facebook post reported on by the Chicago Sun-Times—that she was leaving the Jimmy Fallon-hosted series. Calling the decision “mutual,” Drysdale reportedly wrote, “They made it clear that I was not a good fit for the show, and I did not disagree. I wish it had gone differently and I had been able to be what they needed but that is not how it shook out.”
Drysdale, who came up in the Chicago comedy scene, and who got her start in TV writing on shows like Key & Peele and Baskets, wrote that, ultimately, the idea of generating constant comedy ideas about Donald Trump became kind of too much to bear. “The project of project of making fun of Trump, or doing material about Trump, has led to divided creative teams, anxiety, tears and pain” on numerous projects she’s worked on, she wrote. “I can’t decide the outcome of this election, but I can make the choice for myself, to vote him out of my creative life. I believe that comedy is a powerful tool. I believe that it can handle anything, no matter how unfunny. I don’t believe that making fun of this man, doing impressions of him, or making him silly, is a good use of that power. It only adds to his.”
Drysdale had been in the head writer position for seven months; her successor in the position will be former head writer Nedaa Sweiss, who’ll also be working alongside the just-promoted Jamie Granet-Bederman as co-showrunner. The Trump era has not been especially kind to Fallon’s particular brand of late-night inoffensiveness; once dominant, the years since Trump’s 2017 inauguration have seen Fallon slip, often resting at third place behind Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel—a loss that’s seen the show swap out writers and producers with increasing haste.