Tim Tai, Photography Editor

Branford’s common room filled with collegiate comedians and entertainment industry aficionados eager to hear writer Michael Koman discuss his writing process and philosophy on Thursday evening.

Koman is a comedian, writer and producer who has written on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Nathan for You” and “Saturday Night Live,” among many other projects. He has been nominated for 11 Emmys — securing one in 2007 for Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program on Conan — and has won six Writers Guild Awards.

“If you feel enthusiasm for something, it’s a sign that either you’re meant to do it or that you’d be good at it,” Koman stated, looking around the room. “Don’t talk yourself out of it; you’re probably cut out for it.”

Koman was introduced by Branford Head of College Enrique de la Cruz, who then ceded the floor to Alexia Buchholz ’24. Choosing a student interviewer for Branford teas is a tradition of de la Cruz, a method by which he hopes to encourage current students to engage directly with the leaders they are inspired by.

Buchholz wrote that after the talk, Koman told her that “if he could get anything across to the students who attended, he wants us to believe in ourselves,” adding that “it was an absolute honor to meet him.”

Koman started his career at MADtv.

“It was just a job I got,” Koman admitted of stint as a writer at the sketch comedy show — the catalyst to his career. “I got [it] out of college, honestly by accident.”

Koman described moving on to “Conan” as a rude awakening — and as a phenomenal opportunity for growth.

At MADtv, Koman felt like a lone step in a long process of writing and editing. At “Conan”, he remembered, “your idea was completely your responsibility, from pitching to writing to the final edit.”

“I fell apart,” he admitted.”I felt like a fraud … It’s easy when you’re young, when you’re doing something you care about, to vacillate between self-loathing and vanity.”

Koman was plagued by fear, but after some time in the position he came to appreciate the creative freedom he was given, stating that it is the best way to operate a writers’ room.

Perhaps more importantly, he found kinship with the other writers: they found the same things funny, he said. It felt profound at the time, and, Koman added, that sort of chemistry is not always guaranteed.

Koman met Nathan Fielder soon after ending his stint at Conan, when the two began writing together for Demetri Martin. They formed a quick friendship.

“Nathan For You” is part mockumentary, part improv and part “cringe comedy.” No matter how the show is characterized, it is fundamentally silly. Koman spoke of Fielder as a “natural character,” the kind of person whose very presence brings hilarity to any situation. Audience members nudged each other, as if to tell their neighbors, “That’s you!”

Nathan For You ran for four seasons, garnering a cult following and critical acclaim. When it ended in 2017, Koman moved on to SNL, and then to How to with John Wilson.

“I was too old [to write] for SNL,” he said, noting that the best writers on the show were at the beginnings of their careers, “but I made myself do it so I could know what it was like.”

Buchholz asked Koman for his best advice for aspiring creatives; he emphasized community and the unwillingness to succumb to fear. He also noted all the times he almost quit — and how glad he was that he had not.

Koman stayed well past his allotted hour to answer student questions, ranging from inquiries on the streaming age to affectionate interrogations on the creation of favorite “Nathan for You” scenes. 

“I am delighted that we were able to bring Michael Koman to Branford and the Yale community,” de la Cruz told the News. “Koman was generous with his time and offered great anecdotes about his experiences, which were inspirational to students for their creative pursuits in comedy.”

Branford College is located at 74 High St.

Correction 4/11: A previous version of this article misspelled Buchholz’ name. 

Miranda Wollen is the University Editor for the News; she also writes very silly pieces for the WKND section. She previous covered Faculty and Academics, and she is a junior in Silliman College double-majoring in English and Classics.