WORDS BY: EMILY AYERS
PHOTOS BY: TRANG LE
It was a late Thursday evening when the creative chaos at the College Beat TV offices was finally beginning to wind down just in time for a writers meeting. Jason Lauckner, the executive producer of Late Night Long Beach, peered into his computer and led the group into discussion about editing the first segment of the semester.
The writers laughed as they started reading a scene that begins with the host of the show and two others sitting around, high on marijuana, and slowly freaking out as they realize they haven’t prepared for the taping that is supposed to start in a half hour.
Filmed in front of a live audience at the Nugget Grill & Pub, Late Night Long Beach is a College Beat entertainment production that is currently in its fifth season as CSULB's own late-night show.
The show made its season premiere on Oct. 26 and is accessible on College Beat TV’s YouTube channel and social media accounts, as well as public access channels Charter 32, Verizon 41 and all of CSULB’s University Student Union flatscreen TVs.
As part of Lauckner’s vision, the series will now take a look at topics that are more relevant to college students in a style similar to “The Daily Show.” In the past, the show was more reminiscent of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
“What inspires me isn’t just things that are funny,” Lauckner said, “But it is words that have a meaning behind them or an underlying subtlety that moves me. That is the cornerstone of all good comedy.”
Navigating the role of producer isn’t new for Lauckner. His journey with College Beat TV began three years ago when he volunteered as a freshman, working his way up and gaining experience with writing and production. He was the head writer of Late Night Long Beach last spring. Now in his junior year studying film, Lauckner seems to have found his place.
“I remember vividly one of my earliest memories was that I wanted to be a magician,” he said. “It was everything I practiced, until one day my dad introduced me to Star Wars, and I was captivated by those types of old-school movies. I wanted to make movies like that.”
In high school, Lauckner mostly made short films and as a freshman was initially turned off to the idea of doing television. However, after becoming a part of College Beat, his mind opened to other forms of media that he felt might also satisfy his career goals.
Growing up, Lauckner remembers never being the popular kid but being the stereotypical one who sat in the back of the room cynically judging people. What changed his perspective was a trip he took to Vietnam in high school.
“It opened my eyes,” said Lauckner. “All of these small moments hit me that maybe I should try to get out of my shell more. It transitioned from that, and I became a better student and finished high school with a 4.5 GPA. When I went to college, I wanted to continue that involvement but I still think that critical judgment I had of people is definitely where my comedy has grown from.”
Bellflower was Lauckner’s home during his elementary school years, but he has also lived in Montebello and Pasadena and currently resides in Long Beach. His older sister, younger brother and parents have been supportive throughout his journey.
Lauckner’s personal growth can be seen in the many relationships he has fostered at College Beat TV. Current chief executive producer of College Beat TV Nicole Ilagan, formerly a producer for Late Night Long Beach, was the one who chose him as the show’s newest executive producer.
“He was heavily involved in the beginning stages as the head writer,” Ilagan said. “He knew what it took and he showed interest, so it just made sense. He is passionate about production, and I think he tries to push the limits. He sees what the volunteers want and, from that, looks at what they can create.”
Lauckner said that once last season was wrapped up, a lot of work went into how the show’s crew members could improve the show. After hammering out some aspects of the show, they eventually came to a point where he was able to ask himself what he wanted to do with the show and made the structural changes necessary.
Senior communications studies major and journalism minor Jenn Lucas is the host for this season’s show and has found working with Lauckner to be inspiring.
“He continually works around my schedule and is always collaborative when it comes to my thoughts on changing or removing parts of the script,” Lucas said. “I never feel disregarded by him if I am giving any concerns or input and with his guidance, the team is able to maintain a safe environment that is free from stress or judgment.”
As with any new project, the undertaking of revamping the show has come with its challenges. For Lauckner, the greatest challenge been learning how to write journalistically.
“With older seasons, it was monologue and one-off jokes. With this season, we want more journalistic integrity,” Lauckner said. “That takes a lot to research the topics and constantly revise drafts so they are as accurate as possible. That has honestly been the hardest part because there will be a huge chunk of information and I have to see where I can put jokes in.”
Lauckner said when he first started out it was all about his own vision, but now he has learned how to rely on other people’s expertise and viewpoints to write the show.
Sophomore journalism major Jess Kung, a writer and camera operator for the show, said that one of Lauckner’s strengths in leading the team has been the freedom he gives to writers and the space he gives them to grow.
“He is good about giving constructive criticism,” Kung said. “This show does rely on people laughing, at least a little, and that’s what happens a lot in the writers room.”
For Lauckner, part of the whole experience that has meant so much to him has been seeing the effort and passion from those he works with.
“I am grateful because it is so rewarding when people say this show is worth their time and effort,” he said. “They come to work sometimes until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. on a weekday. I have learned to not underestimate the dedication of other people, and I have learned to appreciate their work.”