Student Stories

KP Anderson

Cultivating Laughter: K.P. Anderson ’91

As head writer and executive producer of E!’s The Soup, K.P. Anderson ’91 cultivates laughs for a living (the show offers recaps of ridiculous television show clips accompanied by snarky commentary from comedian Joel McHale) and credits a Hamline professor for identifying comedy as his career path.

As part of his major in communication studies, he took a public speaking class with Professor David Lapakko.  “He pulled me aside and told me I was naturally funny when I did my speeches,” Anderson said. “He suggested I try an open mic night to see where it might take me.”

With that boost in confidence, Anderson traded campus life for comedy clubs as he circulated through local venues like Knuckleheads and Acme. By the time graduation rolled around, Anderson was already booked for a summer comedy tour.

A move to Los Angeles quickly followed, but the comedian spent more time serving at Johnny Rockets burger joint than slinging jokes, so he headed back on the road to become what L.A. needed: “more funny.”

While stuck in a hotel in Madison, WI, Anderson wrote a comedy sketch that he forwarded to friend and writer for The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show. Wayans, who bought the sketch, hired Anderson as one of the show’s writers.

“The burn of having not succeeded bothered me quite a bit,” Anderson said of redoubling his efforts on the road after his initial experience in L.A. “Writer and comedian Rich Hall of Saturday Night Live told me that my writing was more layered than the average comic, and that I should put down more on the page. That led me to writing for TV shows.”

It’s been 13 years since Anderson took his first writing job, and he can boil that timeline down in a quick summary of career moves: Politically Incorrect on ABC, Mohr Sports on ESPN, The Wayne Brady Show on ABC (for which he won an Emmy), and his current spot on The Soup.

As head writer, he and his staff comb through roughly 250 television show clips each week. The top 25 clips are then eviscerated in jokes. According to Anderson, the weekly program maintains its popularity thanks to age-old schadenfreude. “The things celebrities put themselves through to get notoriety are so ridiculous, and people enjoy the visceral look at all this outlandish behavior,” Anderson said. “They take a little relief in knowing they’re not that messed up.”

When he isn’t writing for The Soup, Anderson occasionally hits the stand-up circuit with McHale. In 2009, the duo played the State Theater in Minneapolis, and Anderson said the Minnesota-style feedback he received let him know the show went well.

“There’s this stoicism about Minnesotans that if you really put on a great performance, you really nail it down, then you will get the highest compliment ever, which is: ‘That was pretty good.’”

Even while living in Los Angeles, Anderson remains connected to the place that helped foster his passion: “My mom lives down the street from Professor Pat Palmerton. If Pat tells my mom some Hamline news, I get an email almost immediately.”

Find out more about Hamline’s communication studies program or contact Hamline's Undergraduate Admission Office to learn more about joining the Hamline community.