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: Did quality suffer without the writers?
Mo Rocca:Well I don’t really watch them, and I do . . . I do pieces for the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, and I love the writers over there. But I do have to say that Jay Leno just demonstrated remarkable readiness and grit. And yeah I mean he . . . He’s never been a critical darling, but my goodness. That was quite a feat. I think it ended just soon enough. I think that that was a . . . I think it was . . . I think that . . . I don’t think that the shows that were working without writers could have sustained themselves much longer. I think they simply would have become exhausted. I think there was sort of an all hands on deck kind of emergency measure taken at a lot of these shows. I know in the case of a couple I happen to know that. And so I don’t think they could have sustained their quality for much longer without a writing staff. And . . . But certainly the late night shows, the reputation of writers vis-à-vis the late night shows were the most precarious because those shows went on and didn’t lose a lot of viewers.
Recorded on: 2/14/08