The Next Step to a New Gig
By Kristina Verdugo
Senior College Lab Technician and Adjunct Professor John Szeluga resigned from his position after accepting a job offer at truTV’s Impractical Jokers.
Szeluga spent most of his adult life at CSI, which began as a student 1998. While working at the college, he maintained the full-time responsibility of managing the multimedia facilities of the Media Culture Department. He also taught video production and post production classes, CIN 111, and CIN 120, as an Adjunct Lecturer.
“John worked here for a long time and he just wanted to work on his comedy,” said Artem Golub, a CSI alumni and employee at The Cage in 1P. “He does stand-up, podcasts, and now he’s writing for the show.”
Szeluga said that his decision to resign was not an easy one to make, because he would have been eligible for tenure if he had stayed at CSI for one more year.
he expressed that quitting his job meant leaving behind his sense of security, benefits, and a pension, describing that a career working in television is “scary,” due to the uncertain life expectancy of television shows.
However, there were other factors that outweighed his fear, helping solidify his decision to take the plunge.
“I prefer teaching the CIN 120 class, because it focuses entirely on video editing, which is always a lot of fun for me,” said Szeluga. “I actually love teaching and hope to return to it someday.”
He expressed his love for the students, whom he “will miss very much,” but explained that he is “much happier and mentally healthier,” than he was a few weeks ago.
“The bottom line is this: I was underpaid and overworked, and I lacked the support I needed to effectively do my job,” said Szeluga. “Ultimately, I had to decide if I’d be okay with never taking a chance in life, and I knew I wouldn’t be. Thankfully, I have a wife who is incredibly supportive.”
Szeluga described comedy as something he always “felt compelled to do,” but found it hard to rely on, as a substantial source of income.
“Unfortunately, for most of my life I’ve lost money doing comedy, so I always needed the day job,” he said.
“Now I get to do the thing I’m most passionate about and it pays the bills, so things are pretty good right now.”
Szeluga began working full-time at Impractical Jokers in November and has been writing for the upcoming fifth season. The hidden camera series follows four friends, James “Murr” Murray, Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto, and Brian “Q” Quinn, better known as the comedy troupe, The Tenderloins, which formed in 1999.
These high school friends from Staten Island compete to embarrass each other by performing public pranks while the strangers’ reactions are caught on film.
Whoever fails to successfully complete the prank, must endure an even more embarrassing punishment.
Szeluga also took advantage of his comedy writing skills while he was a CSI student.
“Before graduating, I wrote a play with some friends that we produced in the Lab Theater,” he said. “It was called, ‘The Top-Secret Files of Professor Sandwich: Revealed!’”
The students incorporated video and original music, built sets, made costumes, and promoted the event on WSIA.
“It ended up being this incredibly collaborative process, and students from different departments really came together to make it all work and I had a blast,” said Szeluga.
“We took initiative and made it happen using the college’s many resources.”
Szeluga explained how he constantly advised students to take advantage of everything CSI has to offer, something he wish he’d done sooner.
“Don’t just focus on your coursework and do as much as you possibly can,” he said. “It only gets harder, people get busier, and resources cost money, so take advantage of this time in your life.”
In addition to his new writing career, Szeluga also produces and co-hosts the Super Live Adventure Podcasts with Chris Sorrentino and Bryan McGukin, the former members of A Dan Amongst Dans sketch comedy troupe.
He also performs at Amazingtown, a stand-up comedy show he co-produces and hosts at Bunga’s Den in NYC, every Tuesday night.
Szeluga aims to have a productive future.
“Death, and hopefully some more fun stuff before that.”