Maurice Alberto (Mo) Rocca is an American writer, comedian, and political satirist, is known for his off-beat news reports, satirical commentary, and as a former correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1998-2003). Originally from Washington, DC, Rocca graduated from Harvard University in 1991 with a B.A. in literature. He served as president of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals, performing in four of the company's notorious burlesques and even co-authoring one (Suede Expectations). Later, he worked as a writer and producer for the children's television series Wishbone (1995), The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1996) and Pepper Ann (1997), and also as a consulting editor to the men's magazine Perfect 10. Rocca is a regular panelist on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and a regular contributor to CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. He is a regular correspondent for NBC's Tonight Show, most recently providing 2008 election coverage, as well as for MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He was a celebrity commentator on VH1's Best week ever, as well as the I Love The... shows. He was the host of Things I Hate About You on Bravo. Rocca was an on-the-floor correspondent for Larry King on CNN at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which he called an "Obamarama." He returned as a correspondent for the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Question: How did you get into your line of work?
Mo Rocca:I went to Harvard, and I was president of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals – the Hasty Pudding Show. And it was a magical, wonderful, four-year experience. I acted in it all four years. I was a woman all four years. It’s a drag show. Half the actresses play men, half play women. And if you’re gonna be a in a drag show, you wanna play a woman, and so I got to do that all four years. And I was president and I co-wrote it one year. And it was a great, great experience. And it seemed like the next move was to move into musical theater – to, you know, theater – both musical and non-musical – in New York. And I tried my hand at it, and I did a number of different gigs that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. I did the Southeast Asian tour of the musical Grease. So we went to Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong. We were cancelled in Kuala Lumpur – long Story. And . . . But then you know even when I was doing that I was constantly reading the newspaper, you know, and reading the Economist; or reading whatever was the magazine that I was fixated on at that point. And I remember a couple of people. There was actually . . . The girl who played Rizzo in Grease, I remember she said something very sweet. She looked at me. She was really good, and she said, “You’re not gonna end up doing this. You’re gonna do something different. You’re gonna do something that’s kind of new.” And I remember she was kind of, you know, like a fortuneteller or something. And so I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to feel fulfilled and keep doing what I was doing by waiting in long lines outside of Actors’ Equity to audition for, you know, the Akron, Ohio production of “Hello, Dolly!” The Carousel Dinner Theatre, by the way, in Akron is very good, and I would have loved to have performed there. I auditioned there many times and never got cast.