This ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Showrunner Wrote Jokes for a Sitting US President
As executive producer, showrunner, and a writer on one of the biggest comedies in the 1990s and early 2000s, Phil Rosenthal knows funny.
It turns out, Rosenthal at that time was writing jokes about more than marriage, in-laws, and kids. He was also working on material of national importance, writing jokes for a sitting president of the United States.
Phil Rosenthal created ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’
In 1996, Rosenthal, a writer who had worked on the comedy series Coach, was offered the opportunity to create a sitcom for Ray Romano, who had just appeared on David Letterman’s late night show.
He spoke with Fatherly in 2019 and discussed the evolution of Raymond.
“In the beginning, we didn’t know what the show would be. I think he would have been very comfortable doing a Seinfeld-type of show; you know where he and his comedian friends sit in a coffee shop and talk about nothing. But I told him that show was already out there.”
The two comedy writers began talking about their respective families and realized they had more than enough material to create a workable comedy series. They were right. Everybody Loves Raymond became a beloved fixture on CBS, running for nine seasons after its start in 1996.
How Phil Rosenthal ended up writing jokes for President Bill Clinton
In a 2005 conversation with the Archive of American Television, Rosenthal explained how he began writing for the sitting president at that time, Bill Clinton.
“I worked for President Clinton his entire presidency, writing jokes for him. Every April is humor season in Washington, where they do the Gridiron Club Dinner and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which is the big one. It was fun; [Clinton] was great at it.”
Rosenthal made a film about Clinton in 2000, the last year of his presidency, called President Clinton, The Final Days.
“I always wanted to make a little movie but [Clinton] never had the time, until the last year, when he had a little more time. And of course, that became the joke of the movie. It’s called The Final Days and I wrote it with some guys at the White House and I got to direct the president of the United States.”
What Phil Rosenthal’s working on now
The star of food and travel shows I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, which aired on PBS in 2015 and Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil (now in its third season), has been working on whatever is currently on his plate.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in April 2020, the father of two explained that next to eating, his current passion is supporting the restaurant industry during what has to be its most dire hour surviving the ongoing pandemic.
“I’d say that, equal to my joy from eating, is supporting [restaurants]. They’re threatened — their lives and livelihoods are threatened. The government is giving money to the big chains and corporations instead of the restaurants where our social lives are,” Rosenthal said.
“If we don’t support these places, they’re not going to be there when this is over. I don’t want to live in the world without them,” he concluded.
And there’s nothing funny about that.