Arlington Heights native produces laughs for James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel

 
 
Updated 4/25/2016 4:30 PM
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  • Arlington Heights native Kate Presutti, right, the comedy producer on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden," goes over a show segment with Corden and guest Cyndi Lauper.

    Arlington Heights native Kate Presutti, right, the comedy producer on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden," goes over a show segment with Corden and guest Cyndi Lauper. courtesy of Kate Presutti

  • Kate Presutti, who grew up in Arlington Heights, is now a comedy producer on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden."

    Kate Presutti, who grew up in Arlington Heights, is now a comedy producer on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden." courtesy of Kate Presutti

You've got two hours to find a snowblower.

In Los Angeles.

And it needs to hold a life-size cutout of Kim Kardashian.

Next, you have to persuade a woman on Hollywood Boulevard to allow actor Jim Carrey to shave her head on live television.

Then you have to let James Corden smack Ping-Pong balls at you as hard as he can, to test a skit he'll do later with actor Chris Hemsworth.

This is just a sampling of actual things Arlington Heights native Kate Presutti has done as part of her job as a late night TV show producer. She worked for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" for about 1½ years and, for the past year, she's been the comedy producer on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden."

The creative, high-pressure, never-a-dull-moment job works perfectly with her theater background and what she calls her "intense, Type A personality."

"We're just putting on a show every day, and that's what I love to do," said Presutti, 29, an alumna of John Hersey High School and Northwestern University. "I used to put on shows in my basement when I was 10, with a karaoke machine, but now I do it every day. It's a total blast."

After years working as a personal assistant to various people in Hollywood -- including Fox President David Madden -- Presutti landed a job as a field producer on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" The job often required her to stand out on Hollywood Boulevard doing man-on-the-street segments. She calls the famous, tacky, touristy street "the grossest place on Earth," but it's also one of the busiest, filled with random people who make for entertaining TV.

"We'd come in to work at 9:30 a.m., and at 10:30 a.m., they'd tell us what we were going to do. And then it was, like, GO!" she said. "It really was a crash course in producing. When the ideas are the most absurd things you've ever heard, and you have 2½ to three hours to make it happen, that's a great learning experience. We have to execute the ideas that the writers have."

One absurd idea was to have someone drive a snowblower down Hollywood Boulevard with fake snow blowing out of the famous derrière of Kim Kardashian. Presutti somehow made it happen. She scoured Craigslist and found a snowblower, got $300 in cash and sent a production assistant on the hour-each-way drive to get it.

"I was like, how is this even a job?" she said, laughing.

When an opportunity arose to change jobs and work on the new James Corden show, she went for it -- even though she said it was like "switching from a Fortune 500 company to a startup."

But Presutti loved that Corden was a theater person like herself who could sing and dance, and it gave her a lot more creative leeway when producing segments. In her first year there, she's had a hand in producing many of the show's well-known and viral segments, including Carpool Karaoke with Adele (which has almost 100 million YouTube views), the Tom Hanks Filmography where Hanks and Corden acted out scenes from all of Hanks' movies in five minutes, and a modern day version of Alanis Morissette's hit song "Ironic," with references to things like Uber, Tinder and Amazon.

The job's not always big fun and laughs, Presutti said. It sometimes involves working with difficult and demanding celebrities (it took some coaxing to get Megan Fox to wear a pair of ugly blue shoes for a certain skit), or having to learn things on the spot.

For example, after they did a big Super Bowl show, Presutti got a call the next morning that Super Bowl MVP Von Miller was going to be on the show that night. She immediately had to educate herself about him, write questions for Corden to ask and make all of the arrangements for Miller's appearance. It takes a lot of hustle, and 12-hour days are the norm. But that doesn't bother Presutti.

"My biggest stress is, will Cyndi Lauper wear this wig that we pulled for her?" she said. "I'm having the most fun. It's so crazy for me to think that I'm getting paid to do this."

• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who'd make an interesting feature, email them at dgire@dailyherald.com and jsotonoff@dailyherald.com.

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