Alumni Spotlight: Tyler E. Spindel ’07

Tyler Spindel
Courtesy of Haley Melikian

Tyler Spindel at the Just for Laughs Festival.

Tyler E. Spindel ’07 is a Hollywood film director currently working on two comedy movies. He was a stand-up comedian in New York, a producer for “Chelsea Lately,” and worked on various shows on Comedy Central. The Harvard Crimson sat down with Spindel to chat about his time at Harvard and his upcoming work.

The Harvard Crimson: Can you give us a summary of your career so far?

Tyler E. Spindel: Right after college I moved to New York to do stand-up comedy and then I stayed there a little less than a year doing standup. Then I got a writing gig on a movie out in LA and that kind of moved me out there. Ever since I’ve been in LA and I started getting into directing and writing and I was acting at the time too. I got some parts in movies and stuff but all small stuff.

And then I started directing and I stopped acting and I stopped doing standup comedy. Now I pretty much just write and direct. I directed the show “Chelsea Lately,” and did that for quite a few years. I did “The Jack and Triumph Show,” if you’ve ever seen that. A lot of Comedy Central stuff. And then over the past two years I’ve directed two movies. The first one is called “Deported” and that one is probably going to come out this year at some point. The one I just finished is called “Graduate” and we actually shot it right outside of Boston.

THC: Is that a movie for Netflix with David Spade?

TES: Yes, that’s the one.

THC: Did you move to New York immediately after graduating from Harvard?

TES: Yes, I moved straight to New York right after graduating. It was the best and there were a lot of Harvard people out there so it was fun. Then I got a gig out here in LA and I’ve been here ever since.

THC: How did your time at Harvard influence your career path?

TES: Well I actually started stand-up at Harvard. … I did a couple of shows at Harvard, which was fun. Me and my friends used to write skits and shoot skits out in Harvard Yard actually. I used to cast all my buddies and we used to shoot so much stuff in our dorm. I just kinda fell in love with it. It was actually at Harvard where … you started to kind of find your style and find out what you thought was funny. We used to shoot stuff all around the Square. I took some of the film classes too but I was a history major actually.

THC: You’ve had a number of roles in Hollywood, including acting, directing, and producing. What is your favorite job and why?

TES: Definitely directing and I got to say this last movie that I just did. It was cool because we got to come back home and shoot because I’m from around there and it was cool to shoot where I grew up around Boston. I got to put my family in the movie too.

THC: As Adam Sandler’s nephew, was comedy a natural career path for you?

TES: I think it was, but I don’t know. I liked a lot of things. I always thought I was going to be in business or something like that but then I started playing around with comedy. Once I started I couldn’t stop. But I would say yes.

THC: How do you separate yourself from his career and your own?

TES: Well it’s easy because I have a different last name. Honestly, I try to not tell people. I just try to be different. But listen, I would be lucky to have a career like him. Extremely lucky. But I try to write different style jokes than him, I try to do a little bit different style of humor. He’s been a huge influence on me. I honestly wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for him.

THC: Is there another person besides Sandler in your life that you look up to?

TES: There’s been so many. Adam and my other uncle Scott who also works in the business as a lawyer and a producer. They’ve both been extremely instrumental in teaching me everything and guiding me through everything.

THC: What have been your favorite projects so far?

TES: “Chelsea Lately”was the best. That was so much being able to shoot a show every day over a couple years. It was a really cool experience because you come up with an idea that morning and then you shoot it late morning, edit it in the afternoon, and then it’s on TV that night. It’s a pretty crazy experience and it was really fun. I got to work with so many talented people—pretty much every celebrity came on the show. It was unbelievable.

That was amazing, and then shooting these last two movies has been amazing, to direct something that I wrote with one of my good friends. Getting to do that was unbelievable too. it was so much fun. It’s kind of crazy to see something that you’ve conceived, shoot it and have it come out. It’s a pretty nutty feeling.

THC: You have these two movies coming out soon. Are there any other projects that are in the works or that you are working on now?

TES: Well, the two movies are the big ones and now that I just finished post—which is the editing and cutting—I’ll get back to writing. I’m working on a pilot and I got to get started on that. It’s kind of a case-by-case basis industry, you kind of go one at a time. You work on one job really hard and then you take a little break until you get to the next one.

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