"Man, times are tough. The economy is so bad that David Letterman is buying jokes online for $100 each. He might get more for his money by finding an online date."

OK, that was a cheap attempt at humor, and a cheap shot at Letterman, who often makes fun of himself. But Letterman, and other late-night TV hosts, are doing just that -- paying freelance writers $75 or $100.

But the catch is they only get paid if their joke appears on the air, and they aren't paid union wages, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

Freelance writer and Web developer Phil Johnson told the Times that from his home in Boston he has gotten more than 160 of his jokes on the "Late Show With David Letterman" and, before that, "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Here's one of Johnson's jokes that was telecast on Letterman's March 17 monologue, which is archived on Letterman's Web site and can still be watched. "Beautiful day in New York City," Letterman said. "Am I right about that? A gorgeous day. It was so nice today that AIG gave a bonus to Al Roker."

The underground network of comedy writers can make a quick $100 or so by e-mailing jokes to the shows, but only if their joke runs on the air. While $100 is nothing to turn away, especially in a recession, the paid union members earn a lot more -- $3,215 minimum for writing a comedy sketch under 10 minutes.

Some shows, such as those of Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien, don't hire freelance writers. O'Brien doesn't because he supports the guild, which will leave some freelancers out of extra work when he takes over for Leno on June 1.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Timing Your Spending

How to pay less by changing when you purchase.

View Course »

Introduction to Retirement Funds

Target date funds help you maintain a long term portfolio.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

My dad didn't like to use charcoal he would use any type of wood that was laying around one day I go to his house for a barbecue and I brought charcoal he said what's the charcoal for I said for for the barbecue he said we don't need that I said dad last time we had a barbecueI I found a nail in my hamburger he says well you're lucky your sister found a hammer in hers

June 27 2015 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One day me and my wife were driving to palms spring and i notice those wind mills that make energy while we were driving my wife see a sign that said gusty winds ahead and she said well no crap they need to turn them damn fans off

True story

June 27 2015 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I was born I was so hairy that my mother got a rug burn

June 27 2015 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 14 2015 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
William Rogers

where did the manhattan Indians get there name from not the duch or English or anybody else wearing a hat , where is Jamaica queens located on an island why are islands called islands because you cant see them any other way then with your eyes

March 23 2015 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nationwide, folks seeking 50 SHADES OF GRAY are being directed to Senior Citizen chat room.

February 14 2015 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ibrahim Rasak

It's one faithful night,when my daddy came back home lately around 12pm. My mum was a little bit angry and nervous,because it's has been his habbit. Knock !!! My didn't answer him,but she said to him, " Go back to where you are coming from my friend. Angrily" my daddy reply" I will go and fall into the well o!" mummy smile and said " You better go, it's none of my business" oh ! Is that so,dad suprise... " Ok we shall see o! . After some minutes. Mummy had sound that something is fall inside well in front of our house,not knowing that it's was dad that throw block in it. " Yeeh !!! This man had kill me o" She shouted and run to rescue her husband. As she ran out,dad hide and go in and lock mummy out. Hey ! You too go back to where you are coming from with nightgown.....

November 19 2014 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Prince Blake

A lot of people in the new have similar names and it can be confusing but worry not, I am here to make sense of it for you. Take these two guys making news lately. Douglas McCain and John McCain. Both supported the Syrian Rebels. Now their biggest difference seems to be that one is 78 and the other is 22. That's 56 years. But the younger one got killed recently on his jihad. So the the biggest difference now is than John is still on his.

September 01 2014 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gregory Baker

Stupid jokes.

February 18 2014 at 5:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rowan Saker

What did Jose Feliciano say to the guy attacking his pal? Release Knobby's nuts

December 29 2013 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply