Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel (born May 20, 1950)[1] is an American producer and writer who has worked on such productions as Saturday Night Live, PBS' Great Performances, and It's Garry Shandling's Show.

Alan Zweibel
Alan Zweibel in 2017
Born (1950-05-20) May 20, 1950
Brooklyn, New York, United States
OccupationAuthor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, director, actor, comedian
Years active1974–present

Early life

Zweibel was born in Brooklyn, New York City,[2] to a Jewish family. He grew up in the New York City suburbs of Wantagh[3] and Woodmere on Long Island.[4] He graduated from George W. Hewlett High School in 1968 and the University at Buffalo in 1972.[5]

Upon graduation from college, Zweibel started writing for stand-up comedians who paid him seven dollars a joke. He later compiled over 1,100 of them into a portfolio which he showed to producer Lorne Michaels who then hired Zweibel to be one of the original writers of a new show called Saturday Night Live.



During his 5 years at Saturday Night Live (1975–1980), Zweibel wrote many memorable sketches, including the Samurai for John Belushi, and helped to create the characters of Roseanne Roseannadanna and Emily Litella, both portrayed by Gilda Radner. As an in-joke, Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey, a name and hometown often associated with the Roseannadanna character, was Zweibel's real life brother-in-law and did live in Fort Lee, New Jersey.[6]

Zweibel's close friendship and collaboration with Gilda Radner extended beyond their tenure at Saturday Night Live – as her last television appearance was on an episode of It's Garry Shandling's Show which Zweibel co-created and produced. After Radner's death from ovarian cancer, Zweibel wrote a bestselling book about their relationship titled Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner – a Sort of Love Story which he later adapted into an off-Broadway play.

Zweibel has won multiple Emmy, Writers Guild of America, and TV Critics awards for his work in television which also includes Curb Your Enthusiasm and an episode of Monk.

Publishing, theater, and film

In addition to Bunny Bunny, Zweibel's other books include The Other Shulman – a novel that won the 2006 Thurber Prize for American Humor. His popular children's book, Our Tree Named Steve, was a Scholastic Book Club selection that has been translated into eleven languages, and his young adult novel, North, was made into a movie directed by Rob Reiner. A collection of short stories and essays, Clothing Optional, was published by Villard in 2008.

In 2011, Price World Publishing dusted off some stories Zweibel had written years ago into the eBook From the Bottom Drawer of: Alan Zweibel. Zweibel and Dave Barry collaborated to write the novel Lunatics which was published in January 2012.

His humor has appeared in such diverse publications as Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Op-Ed Page, The Huffington Post, and Mad Magazine.

In the theater, Zweibel's work has appeared both on and off Broadway. On Broadway, he co-wrote Fame Becomes Me with Martin Short and collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award-winning production of 700 Sundays. Zweibel's off-Broadway shows include Between Cars, Comic Dialogue, Bunny Bunny, and Happy.

His film credits include Dragnet, The Story of Us, and North, which so infuriated film critic Roger Ebert that he penned a scathing review, one line of which later served as the title of Ebert's book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie; Zweibel carries a clipping of the review in his wallet and reads it at public appearances.[7]


In 2009, Zweibel was awarded an honorary PhD. by the State University of New York, and the following year, he was awarded the Ian McLellan Hunter Lifetime Achievement Award by the Writers Guild of America, East.



  • North (1984)
  • Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner – A Sort of Love Story (1994)
  • The Other Shulman: A Novel (2007)
  • Our Tree Named Steve (2007)
  • Clothing Optional: And Other Ways to Read These Stories (2008)
  • From the Bottom Drawer of: Alan Zweibel (2011)
  • Lunatics (2012)
  • A Field Guide to the Jewish People, with Adam Mansbach and Dave Barry (2019)


Unproduced screenplays

  • Barbarians at the Plate
  • Bunny, Bunny
  • Marrying Mom
  • Men Who Lunch
  • Once Upon a Time, Inc.
  • Teddy Young
  • Waiting for Sam to Die



Off Broadway

  • Diamonds (1984) (contributing writer) Circle in The Square
  • Between Cars (1985) Ensemble Studio Theater
  • Comic Dialogue (1986) Ensemble Studio Theater
  • Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner – A Sort of Romantic Comedy (1997) Lucille Lortel Theater
  • Happy, Summer Shorts Festival 4 (2010) 59E59 Theaters


Stage appearances

  • A History of Me (2007) U.S. Comedy Arts Festival
  • Celebrity Autobiography (2010) Triad Theatre, NYC; Broad Stage, LA


  • (2010) WGAE Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Writing
  • (2006) Thurber Prize for American Humor winner
  • (2005) Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event 700 Sundays
  • (1989) CableACE Award for Best Writing in a Comedy Series in "It's Garry Shandling's Show".
  • (1977/78) Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series in "The Paul Simon Special".
  • (1977/78) Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series in "NBC's Saturday Night".
  • (1976/77) Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series in "NBC's Saturday Night".
  • (1975/76) Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series in "NBC's Saturday Night".


  1. Kamin-Meyer, Tami (2006). "JBW Dialogues: The Many Faces of Alan Zweibel". Jewish Book World. 24-25. Jewish Book Council. p. 125. Where and when were you born? AZ: In Brooklyn on May 20, 1950.
  2. Goldberg, Carole (March 6, 2011). "A Comedy Writer Walks Into A Jewish Book Festival…". Hartford Courant. Connecticut. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  3. Clyde, Beth Ann (March 29, 2017). "Alan Zweibel Talks Passover, SNL and Growing Up on LI". Long Island Pulse. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  4. Capuzzo, Jill P. (December 12, 2004). "From 'Saturday Night Live' to '700 Sundays'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2019. As the funny kid in the neighborhood, Mr. Zweibel -- born in Brooklyn and reared in Woodmere, on Long Island -- first tried his hand at writing jokes while at the University of Buffalo, mailing them to Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett.
  5. McGee, Celia (March 9, 1997). "How to Mourn a Friend? One Way Is With a Play". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2019. Mr. Zweibel harbored secret ambitions to write as far back as his days as a jock at Hewlett High School on Long Island. After graduation from the University of Buffalo...
  6. Coutros, Evonne (July 8, 2005). "Once again, Ft. Lee is writer's fodder". The Record. Archived from the original on May 7, 2007. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  7. Zweibel appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, November 14, 2008
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