Kevin Bleyer

AFAR Contributor

In no particular order, Kevin Bleyer spent most of the last decade as a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he won four Primetime Emmy awards, a Writers Guild Award, and a Peabody Award.

While he was there, the show became the most consecutive Emmy-winning program in television history. While we was there, not because he was there.

For most of the previous ten years, he was a writer/producer for Dennis Miller and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and somewhere in there he created and executive produced pilots for both Comedy Central and Showtime. And wrote a pilot for Nickelodeon. And Oxygen.

It’s all a blur.

In 2013, Kevin lived for a time in Kyrgyzstan, where he executive produced Studio 7, the first political satire news show in all of Central Asia. Upon returning, he co-founded Pilot Media Initiatives, an innovative company with the intrepid mission to launch civics-minded media programs in democratically-challenged countries. As such, he recently produced and helped launch new political satire television shows in Macedonia and Nigeria. One of those programs, Yesterday’s News, received the prestigious Zlatna Bubamara “Golden Ladybug” Award for the best satirical show in Macedonia.

Yes, you read that right. The Golden Ladybug Award. And for that, we’d like to thank the Golden Ladybug Academy.

He’s taken his satire global, having traveled the world and produced television direct from hotspots as far-flung as Bishkek, Doha, Basra, Skopje, and Des Moines.

Stateside, he has served as a writer and producer for NBC News, as the Supervising Producer for MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily, and as a writer and producer for a CNN talk show pilot starring Kal Penn.

In episodic television, Kevin was a staff writer for Fox’s hit television show Sleepy Hollow and Bravo’s Significant Others.

You want books? Kevin is the bestselling author of Me the People: One Man’s Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America (Random House) and a co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Earth: The Book.

For the unabridged audiobook of Me the People, which Kevin voiced all by his unabridged self, he was a finalist for an Audie Award — which, he learned, is apparently the Academy Awards for Audiobooks. Had he won, the trophy(?) would have gone right next to the trophies he didn’t win for being a recurring voice for the Onion Radio News.

More recently, he is the co-author, with former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, of the book How to Sweet-Talk a Shark — recounting among other adventures their 2013 humanitarian mission to North Korea to negotiate the release of hostage Kenneth Bae.


Kevin’s weekly column in The Daily Beast, launched that same year, is much shorter than a book. As were the columns he wrote for Foreign Policy during and about the 2014 FIFA World Cup. And with only a few hours notice, he traveled to Guyana to write for Afar Magazine‘s popular and improvisational Spin the Globe series — and not just any issue, mind you, the exact issue that won a National Magazine Award.

Coincidence? Probably!

As an in-demand speechwriter, Kevin contributed to many of the (funnier) speeches of President Barack Obama, including all of the president’s addresses to the annual White House Correspondents Dinners. He has also written speeches for notables ranging from former national security advisors to NASA astronauts to pop icon Shakira.

In 2016, Kevin served for a time as the Deputy Chief Speechwriter for the Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio. Then he got depressed. You can read about that in The Greatest Depression blog, and I hope that you will.

He spent March 2015 in Star City, Russia and at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, to witness and report on the launch of his friend Scott Kelly to the International Space Station. Scott spent almost a year in space, to test the effects of extended exposure to radiation and weightlessness on the human body.

In 2014, Kevin taught as a Fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, on the invitation of former Obama senior advisor and Institute of Politics director David Axelrod. In 2018, Kevin was an adjunct professor in the Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

A graduate of Stanford University, Kevin began his career as a dramaturg and assistant to actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith at the New York Public Theater. He then moved to London, where he worked for journalist David Brancaccio at London Bureau of Public Radio International’s Marketplace. Today his own commentaries can often be heard on National Public Radio or some podcast somewhere, and he’s an occasional commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and CBS Sunday Morning.

In 2017, Kevin gave a TedTalk, basically on how to tell jokes about giving TedTalks. In 2018, Kevin spoke at DEVEX, on the challenges of launching political satire television shows in despotic regimes.

One last thing. In 2008, Kevin became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Truman National Security Fellow, so he secretly runs the government.

He probably shouldn’t have told you that.