The First Comedy Strike

Almost 30 years ago, comics like Jay and Dave staged a revolt. It changed everything

Richard Vogel / AP

Before Letterman and Leno went back to work, Leno visited striking writers. Now they're picketing his show

The strike Jokes, at least, have died down. David Letterman—back on the air with his writers after making a separate deal with the Writers Guild—has moved on to wisecracks about the Clover-field monster and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Jay Leno, who has returned sans scribes but is supposedly writing the monologues himself (angering the Guild, which claims he's violating strike rules by doing so), is pummeling viewers with the usual rat-a-tat of gags playing off the headlines, from the presidential primaries to funny animal news.

The three-month-old strike has sidelined more than 12,000 writers—writers of prime-time shows you can't live without,...

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