Alumni Spotlight: Streeter Seidell

Fulfilling his childhood dreams, the FCRH '05 comedian now makes millions laugh on 'SNL'

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COURTESY OF B. A. VAN SISE

Seidell performed comedy in college, but he didn’t think it an attainable career until CollegeHumor offered him a job.

By BRIELLE CAYER, Staff Writer

His journey reads like a television pilot script:

One young person ventures to the Big Apple bearing a childhood fantasy of writing for “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”). As a Fordham sophomore, he begins performing standup around the city and later lands a job writing for CollegeHumor.com. Today, Streeter Seidell, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’05, has transformed his wildest dream into a reality — he works as a writing supervisor for “SNL.”

However, Seidell didn’t always plan on becoming a comedian. When he began his undergraduate education, Seidell expected to major in history, a subject he’d always loved. In hindsight, he realized, “I don’t think I have the temperament to study an ancient book for 5 years and write a groundbreaking thesis on it.” He ultimately chose to major in communications but still worked to master his comedic craft outside of classes.

“Comedy — standup and writing — was something I did for fun through college,” Seidell explained. “I knew in the back of my head that I wanted to entertain on some level but it all seems so remote and unattainable as a career.” Yet, even as a communications major, Seidell was unknowingly preparing himself for a career in the entertainment industry.

He expressed gratitude for the time he had to mature, saying, “Those four years and the freedom of being a half-adult in New York City really let me figure out who I was and what I thought was funny before I put myself out there.” At the same time, Seidell said, “Most of the way through school I assumed I was going to have a normal job after I graduated and the comedy thing would go away.”

However, life after graduation did not follow Seidell’s expectations. He was immediately offered a full-time position at CollegeHumor.com, and soon after became the site’s editor-in-chief. This led to him writing for a variety of MTV series such as “Pranked,” newspaper publications like The New York Times and the ABC sitcom “Trophy Wife.” “Before I knew it, I was a professional comedy writer,” he said. “There really wasn’t time to fret about it.”

In 2014, Seidell received a life-changing phone call offering him the chance to write for “SNL.” “I’ll never forget that feeling,” he said of the occasion. “It was honestly a phone call I’d been waiting to get for my entire life and it was very much a dream come true.”

As a writer, he works with others to generate ideas for each week’s show. He noted his amazement with his and all the writers’ capabilities to come up with an immense amount of material and ideas, saying, “When you’re under the gun and you have to produce, it’s amazing what your panicked brain will provide you with.”

Of his writing process, Seidell said each sketch and project is different. “Some of them come very easily and just arrive fully formed, but some are very difficult and require a lot of false starts. The most important thing for me is to just pay attention to people I meet or weird things I see and try to bank that stuff for potential future sketches.” Some well-known skits that show off Seidell’s writing are “Haunted Elevator” and “Close Encounter.”

One cannot help but wonder where Seidell gained his wit and cleverness. Growing up he found inspiration in a variety of television shows like “The Simpsons,” “SNL” and “In Living Color.” Specifically, Seidell said, “I think watching Mr. Rogers as a kid set my brain up to be creative and imaginative.”

Furthermore, Seidell acknowledged the influence his childhood had on him, describing it as “very easy and carefree.” He said, “I have a pretty funny family and I think I got a lot of my humor from them. My dad was always goofing around and my aunts and uncles were always ragging on each other so I probably picked up a lot from them.” Aside from their comedic impact, the support of his family and teachers helped Seidell develop the confidence and skill to express his thoughts freely.

Despite Seidell’s career success, he admitted, “Even now, 15 years into it, I’m still wondering if it’s going to work out. It’s hard to feel accomplished in entertainment because there is always someone you know doing more or doing better. The blessing and the curse of a creative career is that you’ll never really feel like you’ve done all the work you want to do.”

He defines success in terms of his children: “I have two kids, and if I can keep working until they’re out of the house I will consider that a successful career.”

When asked what advice he’d give to aspiring comedians, Seidell’s answer was simple: Just start. “It’s really a self-made career at the start and it’s entirely up to you to give yourself that first job,” he said.

It is clear that Seidell has done just that for himself while maintaining the imagination and passion he had as a kid. Ever the ambitious writer, Seidell expressed excitement for the future. “I’d like to create my own show someday,” Seidell said. “Write some movies and see them made. I’d like to see how far I can go at ‘SNL.’”