Chosen Comedy: _Rejection_’s Jon Friedman

Writer and comedian Jon Friedman created The Rejection Show, a night in which artists, comics and writers are given a chance to share personal, beloved work that’s been viciously dismissed by people in positions of power. The show also spawned a book, Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Cancelled. Currently, Friedman has a sweet gig as a writer/blogger on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon so one would think that "rejection" is a distant memory for him–not so.

How long have you been doing The Rejection Show?

The first form of it began in August of 2003, but didn’t really start taking shape as to what it has become today until late 2005.

How did it get started?

I used to talk about a ‘perfect storm’ of rejection all hitting me at once–of being rejected at work (not getting the job I wanted), rejected creatively (not having my own writing and material accepted or looked at) and dumped by a girlfriend (unexpectedly). However, those things didn’t all happen at the same exact time but more one after another over the course of a year. The real basis came from being an intern at Comedy Central where it was my job to go through all of the unsolicited material (or "slush pile") and mail it all back with a standard rejection letter. I was so entertained going through all of this material and I wished there was a forum where this kind of work was put on display.

Do you have a favorite rejection story from the show?

It’s always been very hard to choose a specific favorite story because I work so closely with each show and work closely with many of the performers, so I feel a little bit of attachment with almost every one. But for its uniqueness and pure entertainment, I like to single out this one:

What is your job title at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon?

My job title is "blogger." We won an Emmy this year for the website. I also work with the segment producers on creative ideas on what Jimmy can do with the guests, (i.e., beer pong, etc.). Also, when I have time to contribute jokes to the monologue, I do, which I wish I had more time for.

Do you get to hang with The Roots?

Yes, I do. They are very nice, very accessible, terrific, smart, talented guys. ?uestlove was even spotted in the audience of a recent Rejection Show.

You have a long running stage show, a hilarious and successful book and a rare day job in comedy. What’s next?

I will, of course, continue with my Rejection Show projects and I would love the opportunity to do a second volume of Rejected: Tales of the Failed Dumped and Canceled. As for me in 2010, I’ll again be hosting the ECNY Awards in New York and I am working on my first ever solo show, which I am very excited to do, called "Bear with Me," so please stay tuned for that.

Catch The Rejection Show at UCB Theater in New York City on January 20, 2010 with guests Arden Myrin (Mad TV) and Gavin McInnes (Vice Magazine, Street Carnage). His first ever solo show, "Bear with Me" will be at UCB at 9:30 on January 25. Alex Goldberg is a writer of theater, TV and film. He lives in New York City. Visit him at

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