My laugh has gotten me in trouble many times. With my parents. In school. With the New York Times, when Elon Musk called one of its reporters a “douchebag and an idiot” on camera, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Growing up in Memphis, almost every year I tried to go to the solomn Graceland candlelight vigil on the anniversary of Elvis’s death, and every time someone would say something funny, I’d laugh loudly and get kicked out. Only once did I even get past the gates.
So thank God I’m expected to laugh at the next PandoMonthly. In fact, it would be rude if I didn’t. That’s because my guest is Rob Burnett, CEO of Worldwide Pants. (He’s the one on the right, in case you’ve never turned on a television and don’t recognize the other guy.) Burnett has built his company — and fortune — being funny, finding funny, and putting funny on screens large and small. Tickets are on sale NOW.
He is the man behind David Letterman’s long-running show, and the man who took a chance on Craig Ferguson reinventing the late night talk show genre. He is the man who produced the cult hit television comedy “Ed.” He is the man who thought the comedy of a guy named Ray Romano — a frequent “Late Show” guest — could make a pretty good TV show.
Enjoy that paragraph now, because Burnett is also modest. As soon as he reads it, I’ll get an anxious call asking me to change it because really the whole team did these things and not just him. And I’ve hung out in his office enough to know he indeed has a great team. But Burnett is the force that drives the company, keeps it all together, and keeps everyone laughing.
There are two types of TV moguls: Those who fight technology and those who embrace and try to understand it. Recently, Burnett has thrown himself headlong into the latter camp with the production of his upcoming film, “We Made This Movie.” The themes are all about how technology levels the playing field of entertainment and true to the movie’s spirit, he has done some creative things to crowd-source aspects of the film over the Web.
We’ll talk about that and — I think — he’s going to show us some exclusive new clips that show how the Web made this experience different than any movie or show he’s done before.
As a guy who is friends with Jim Gaffigan and Louis CK, Burnett will likely have interesting things to say about how comedians are using the Web to disrupt their businesses — and breaking box office records and business models at the same time. And as he seeks to make late night talk shows relevant to a younger cord-cutting generation, I’m very curious on his thoughts about how Conan O’Brien leveraged the Web to fight NBC — and how it’s gone for Conan since.
Rob Burnett may not have the same tech-bubble name recognition of some of our other guests this month, but I guarantee you you won’t want to miss this one. For $20, plus New York pizza, beer and a limited edition PandoDaily NYC T-shirt, we think it’s a no brainer.