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The Tonight Show Head Writer Exits, Hints at Divide Over Trump Jokes

Jimmy Fallon is losing his head writer on The Tonight Show… and perhaps Donald Trump is to blame?

Rebecca Drysdale, who became head writer of the NBC late-night talk show earlier this year, is leaving after just six months, our sister site Deadline reports. Drysdale confirmed the news in a Facebook post, stating that NBC “made it clear that I was not a good fit for the show, and I did not disagree. I wish it had gone differently and I had been able to be what they needed but that is not how it shook out.”

Drysdale — who has written for Key & Peele and High Maintenance, among others — points to President Donald Trump, and The Tonight Show‘s approach to writing jokes about him, as a reason for her departure: “I believe that comedy is a powerful tool. I believe that it can handle anything, no matter how unfunny.” But, she added, “I don’t believe that making fun of this man, doing impressions of him, or making him silly, is a good use of that power. It only adds to his.” (Fallon infamously had Trump on The Tonight Show as a guest and playfully tousled his hair during the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, which Trump eventually won.)

From now on, Drysdale says, “I am making the decision for myself to never work on, write, or be involved with, another Trump sketch ever again. I have landed in several jobs and situations over the last few years, not just The Tonight Show, where the project of making fun of Trump, or doing material about Trump, has led to divided creative teams, anxiety, tears and pain. I can’t decide the outcome of this election, but I can make the choice for myself, to vote him out of my creative life.”

Earlier this week, NBC extended Fallon’s contract to remain host of The Tonight Show beyond 2021. (Fallon has served as host since 2014.) Showrunner Gavin Purcell, though, is stepping down, to be replaced by longtime producer Jamie Granet-Bederman.

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