Mining the past — and a hypothetical future — for comedy

Rob Kutner ’94 as a cyborg patriot from the year 2776.
Rob Kutner ’94 as a cyborg patriot from the year 2776.
Courtesy Rob Kutner ’94

What does the future hold for America? Comedy writer Rob Kutner ’94 predicts a gay, female, Asian-American president immortalized on Mount Rushmore, California collapsing into the sea, and, perhaps most consequential, the discovery of a cure for the common cold. 

Those events — and others equally unanticipated — come to pass on Kutner’s music-comedy album, 2776: A Millennium of American Asskickery, a tongue-in-cheek survey of the first thousand years of American history, available at 2776.us. 

As head writer for Conan O’Brien’s late-night TV show, Kutner is adept at turning current events into comedy. He is one of four writers who help craft O’Brien’s nightly monologue. Before joining the Conan staff, Kutner wrote for comedians Jon Stewart and Dennis Miller, among others, and has won five Emmys and a Peabody Award. The former anthropology major and Quipfire! performer also once announced halftime shows for the Princeton marching band.

With his partners, Joel and Stephen Levinson, Kutner rounded up a wide range of stars for his mock-history album, including several not noted for their comedic skills. Besides actors and comedians such as Will Forte, Martha Plimpton, and Margaret Cho, the album features Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg singing. All proceeds go to OneKid OneWorld, which provides educational assistance to children in El Salvador and Kenya.

Kutner’s fellow Tigers also helped out. Shortly before leaving for New York to start filming her new TV series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, actor and comedian Ellie Kemper ’02 took a role in a video for the song “These Aren’t the Droids,” a lament that so much science fiction seems to have been written for adolescent boys. The guy in the Darth Vader costume is writer and actor David Rodwin ’92.

It’s not right to give away the album’s ending, but as awesome as America is, our descendants someday will thank Canada — and a singing Alex Trebek — for saving our bacon.