Thanks to my mom, in the summer of 2001, I was working in the reprints department at Cadmus in Lancaster. I was extremely fortunate to get the position because it was the only one available that wasn’t on the plant floor. Not only this, but it was 1st-shift and the pay was better. Every penny went to my Penn State tuition, but it was better than working in the mall, or worse, a restaurant!
It was during one of my days at Cadmus that I came back from lunch to find that I had a voicemail message. This was odd because no one ever called me. Confused, I listened to the message and almost went through the roof. It was Comedy Central’s web department calling to set up a phone interview! I forgot I even applied!
I quickly called back and had my phone interview. It was pretty basic, they asked me about my skills, I shared them and poof! I was accepted to work for free for their summer web development internship. Well, that’s not 100% correct, they did offer me a $200 stipend. Because of this, I couldn’t work the entire week at Comedy Central. Not only would I not be able to work, but I’d have to pay to live. With college expenses, that just wan’t going to happen. So, we worked out a deal where I would work with them every Wednesday and Thursday. The rest of the week I’d work at at Cadmus. It was great that Cadmus worked with me on this, I was really lucky.
But the puzzle wasn’t complete, there were still some missing peices like, where I would stay Wednesday night. Hotels in New York are expensive, so that’s wasn’t an option.
Enter, my Aunt Chris and Uncle Tom.
At the time, they were living in New Jersey about a little over an hour away from New York City. They were nice enough to let me stay at their place. So I’d pack my bag Monday night, go to Cadmus on Tuesday, and after work drive 4-hours to New Jersey where I’d spend the night with my aunt and uncle. Then, Wednesday morning I’d grab a Greyhound bus to New York City where I’d walk (or ride the subway) from the Port Authority bus terminal to Newsweek building on 57th Street (I’m guessing) outside of Central Park. Then I’d grab a bus home, stay with my aunt and uncle again, and do it all over again the next day. Except on Thursday, I got to drive home, where I’d arrive around 11pm. Then, Friday, wake up at 6:30 to go back to Cadmus.
I did this for over 8 weeks! But it was all worth it!
I’m not going to lie, the actual “work” they had for me do while I was there was a bit light. I would take flash movies and turn them into animated gifs, digitize footage to include with online content, and copy transcripts to include online. The most significant project I was given was analyzing web traffic as it related to on-air promotions using WebTrends. I was an intern, what did I expect?
The experience, however, was awesome!
One day, I met Ben Stein. He was recording audio for an online promotion of “Win Ben Stein’s Money” (remember that show?) I saw him walk into the bathroom and thought I’d say hello when he came out. I didn’t know what I was going to say, but, I had to say something!
He came out and I said hello (as planned) and he was very cordial. He asked me what I did at Comedy Central and then what college I attended. Now I have to give him credit. What type of conversation were were really going to have? But, being a gentleman, he tried to keep the conversation alive by asking me a trivia question. It was strange, but I have to give the guy an “A” for effort. He asked me, “What county Penn State was in”. Now, it’s obvious if you go to school there! It’s State College. I told him, and he said, “Most people don’t know that” and left to continue his work.
Strange, but awesome.
I also got a VIP pass to see “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. Wahoo! This was back when Lewis Black had his “Back in Black” segment. And, I was lucky enough to go on the day he was there! The guest was weak. I can’t even remember who it was, but I got to see Jon and Lewis in action, not to mention Steven Colbert before he had his own show.
I arrived early, stood in line outside of the studio, and after waiting for what felt like forever (I was the first one there), the VIPs were escorted into a room where we stood until we could enter the production area. I took my seat on the bleachers and even got my leg on television! (Wahoo, my knee is a superstar!) We were greeted by a warm-up comic, who was great, and then the show started. Now, the show is 30-minutes long, but wow, it goes even faster when you remove the commercials. And before I knew it, the show was over.
In addition to this I got to see how a dot com operated during the dot com bubble. It demystified a lot of what happened, but it was cool to see how an entire department worked together to create the finished product, ComedyCentral.com. We played pictionary, saw a preview for a new Internet video game, and saw how Flash cartoons were professionally made.
And that… in a nutshell… was my Comedy Central experience.