When asked about “The Daily Show,” Don Montrey exhales and takes a moment. As the head writer of 1812 Productions’ annual political mock newscast “This Is The Week That Is” for the last five years, one senses he’s heard this question before.
“One of our first reviews was like, ‘Why is 1812 doing this, when people can watch “The Daily Show” every night?’ That’s just such a stupid statement. It’s like, ‘Why should I go to the theater if I can watch “The Sopranos” every night?’” he says.
Over the last decade, Montrey has been a leader of Philly’s improv scene, helming groups like Bad Hair and Die Actor Die. But during the holidays, 1812 takes nearly every free minute he has — that is, before and after his day job.
“There’s nothing like this for a comedy writer in Philadelphia,” he says. “In Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, this is how comedians make their living during the day. But it’s not that kind of town. So this is a very unique show in Philly. The material changes day to day, and that’s an incredible thing to be a part of.”
Montrey has been known to make special appearances on “The Week.” Look for him this time as a ridiculous op-ed guest. “It’s always fun to write for someone — when they get laughs,” he says. “But it’s a hundred times better when you get to deliver what you’ve written.”
Behind the scenes
Every morning, Montrey combs through newswires. By lunch, he’s on a call with director Jen Childs and performers Dave Jadico and Tony Braithwaite. (Just before this interview, he was busy scribbling every pay-freeze joke he could think of. Ouch.)