Chicago’s Rebecca Drysdale named new ‘Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’ head writer

A Second City alum, she performed in Chicago with Jordan Peele and went on to write for his ‘Key & Peele.’

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Rebecca Drysdale is head writer at “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.”

Sunshine Sachs

A veteran of Second City and the Chicago improv universe has been tapped as the new head writer of NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.”

The network on Thursday confirmed the hire of Rebecca Drysdale, who is new to the Fallon show but earlier wrote for “Key & Peele” and the “All That” reboot.

Deadline reports she’s been on the job since April 13 at “Tonight,” which is shooting at Fallon’s home during the coronavirus quarantine.

The Akron, Ohio, native wrote and performed shows at Second City e.t.c. in the early 2000s. She made a national splash in 2005 with an edgy one-woman show at a high-profile comedy festival in Aspen, Colorado, which earned her an award as the fest’s Breakout Performer.

Drysdale was circumspect about the opportunities that followed, telling the Sun-Times then, “The last thing I wanna do is be another person who puts out sucky things into the world.”


Rebecca Drysdale (left) performs in the 2004 Second City e.t.c. revue “Show Title Deemed Indecent by the FCC,” with Sam Albert (from left), Matt Craig, Jennifer Bills, Frank Caeti and Peter Grosz

Michael Brosilow

By then she was already tight with Jordan Peele, first her friend at Sarah Lawrence College and later her partner in an acclaimed Chicago sketch duo called Two White Guys. For her work on his show “Key & Peele,” she shared a Peabody Award and three Emmy nominations.

Drysdale also has written for FX’s “Baskets” and HBO’s “High Maintenance.” As an actor, she has appeared on “Arrested Development,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “30 Rock.”

Openly gay, she drew attention for the “Vogue”-esque (and verbally racy) music video she made for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign for LGBTQ teens:

Meanwhile, another woman from Chicago improv, Ariel Dumas, is one of the two head writers (with Jay Katsir) for a “Tonight Show” rival, “Late Night With Stephen Colbert.”

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