Washington State University

Alum Highlights

WSU Alum Joseph Clift Making Strides in Comedy Writing

story by Stevee Chapman, TLO Staff

Native Writers & Directors
Joseph Clift (second from left) with a group of Native writers and directors at the 2011 ABC / Disney American Indian Impact Workshop.

Joseph Clift is a 2009 Washington State University graduate who earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with an emphasis in Broadcast News. Since leaving WSU, Clift has kept busy with multiple projects in which he is using to pave his way to success.

Clift, who is originally from Marysville, Washington, and a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, was a recipient of the WSU Creighton Endowment for Native American Students, as well as the Plateau Native American Scholarship from 2006-2009. As a Broadcast student he was also really involved with Cable 8 Productions, WSU’s student run television station. While involved with Cable 8, he helped write a show called “Cop Drama”, which won a Collegiate Broadcasters, Inc. Award in 2008.

Since graduating, Clift has been living and working in Los Angeles.

“I’ve jumped into the sketch comedy work with both feet down here,” he said.

Clift said he’s only been writing sketch comedy for a short period of time, but he has had the opportunity to write on shows for prominent venues in the area such as Second City, iO West, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

“I've also had the opportunity to work with and study from people who have written for Saturday Night Live, Kids in the Hall, and The Whitest Kids U Know,” Clift said. “These are all shows that really pushed me in the direction to pursue comedy writing as a career, so it's been a real blast to work with, and around these people. I've also written freelance video bits for comedy web site Cracked.com as well as Badassoftheweek.com.”

Besides sketch comedy, Clift says that he has also been dabbling in short fiction pieces this year. Some of these works of his have been published in e-magazine, The Redditor, as well as “The Four Humors”, an amazon.com short story anthology which also features stories from a few New York Times Best Selling Authors.

When it comes to Journalism, Clift says that is an area he is still interested in. In fact, he has had the opportunity to write for online news publications such as Laughspin.com and Gamerlive.tv.

“I was able to cover the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo for [Gamelive.tv], which as a lifelong gamer was a really fun opportunity,” he said.

Clift even co-created an online travel web video series, “The Dart”, which was nominated for a 2011 Southern California Journalism award for Best Online Feature.

As if all of these accomplishments weren’t enough, Clift said he is also involved with The American Indian Writer’s Committee at the Writer’s Guild of America. 

“There are a lot of Natives down here that have achieved success in writing,” he noted.

Clift explained that the American Indian Writer’s Committee is a committee in the Writers Guild of America that specializes in Native issues.

“We discuss Native film and television projects, and think of ways to involve Native Country into the entertainment industry,” Clift said. “The goal of many of the group members, myself included, is to create television series, films and characters that show Natives in contemporary roles so we can hopefully lessen the stereotype many people see Natives as in our society.”

As far as his most recent achievements go, Clift said that a sketch video he wrote and directed recently went viral on Liveleaks.com, gained over 40,000 views in less than a week.  Several of the sketches he has written have also made it onto the front page of Funny or Die, a comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell.

Clift said he is not much different than he was a WSU student.

“Basically, I haven't changed at all. Still working on a million different projects and making progress toward my goals,” he said.

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