This post was written by Michelle Gallina, principal product marketing manager, Adobe Creative Cloud.

Comedy is all about timing. When it comes to editing comedy, you need someone with an instinct for creating rhythms and making jokes pop. Kelly Lyon, ACE, has established herself in the industry as an editor who deeply understands this. She honed her comedic chops editing commercials, digital shorts, and music videos for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. She’s worked on IFC’s Portlandia, HBO Max’s That Damn Michael Che, and stand-up specials such as John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City and Amy Schumer’s latest Netflix special Emergency Contact.

I spoke with Lyon about editing Netflix’s recent John Mulaney: Baby J, how she got into the industry, and why she uses Adobe Premiere Profor her funniest edits.

Kelly_lyonKelly LyonCredit: Courtesy of

Tell us a little bit about editing Baby J for Netflix.

Lyon: I’ve done three comedy specials with John so far, but Baby J is by far the biggest production. We filmed three shows with about 10 cameras each day. The first night we mainly filmed reverse shots of the audience, overhead shots, and sweeping shots. Then on the second night, we filmed two shows back-to-back with the main cameras focusing on John’s performance.

Something that may be surprising about this stand-up comedy production is that it had about 300 VFX shots. We filmed at the Boston Symphony Hall, which is a gorgeous old building, but it has wooden floors that would literally shake when the audience started laughing — and with John Mulaney, they were laughing constantly! The production team did what they could, but the cameras were jumping all night. We ended up doing a ton of stabilization in post.

I actually did most of the rough stabilization in Adobe Premiere Pro. For more complex stabilization, my assistant would use Adobe After Effects so that we could be more particular about where we placed stabilization points. Because of the number of stabilizations, we also relied on our online editor Troy Thompson to help us deliver on time.

You edited the special in Adobe Premiere Pro. What do you like about working with it?

Lyon: For me, it’s all about the speed. I still have that SNL mindset where we need to edit as fast and efficiently as possible to get things out on time. I love working with Premiere Pro and I definitely push for it on my projects.

All of the multicam features were huge for this special. I could use hotkeys to switch between cameras instantly. Or I could change how many cameras I had on the screen at once. So if I knew I wanted a good shot of John as he says a particular line, I could display just the five front-facing cameras and compare the shots.

The organization features were also really helpful. I used markers to tag each joke so I could easily find the same bit in each recording. I also color coded each of the three performances. John would often have notes such as how he liked his delivery on the second night, so I could use the colors to check at a glance that I was using the right clip.

Since I did most of the edit from my home, I also loved being able to work with I’m really spoiled working with, honestly, because when I have to use other collaboration tools it just feels so slow. On some projects, people will really take advantage of the commenting tools to make sure that I know exactly what I need to change. But for Baby J, I mainly used for its sharing capabilities. The special was about 80 minutes long, but it would upload and process in minutes so that I could share my cut much faster. It’s a huge time-saver.

Mulaney_timeline'John Mulaney: Baby J' timeline in Adobe Premiere ProCredit: Courtesy of Kelly Lyon

Where did you first develop a passion for editing?

Lyon: My high school had a TV station, and I took an independent study where I learned to edit my senior class video. My teacher said I was really good at it and that I should go to Hollywood and give them hell. And I’ve been an editor ever since!

It didn’t come immediately, of course. My first job was answering phones at a post-house called Crew Cuts, and it took me a year before I started working in editorial. But I would ask them if I could stay late and just watch them so that I could absorb as much as I could.

How did you get into comedy editing?

Lyon: I’ve always loved comedy, but I never actually thought it would be my specialty. But one of things Crew Cuts did was the SNL pre-taped commercials. When I got promoted to editorial assistant, I asked if I could be assigned to Debbie McMurtrey, the editor who handled most of the SNL work at the time. After assisting Debbie for a while, I started to do edits when she wasn’t available. I got to know folks like John Mulaney through SNL, so when people needed editors for their comedy specials, they started asking me.

Kellylyon_mulaneyeditsuite01_0Kelly Lyon at workCredit: Courtesy of Kelly Lyon

Do you have any advice for people, particularly women, who want to become editors?

Lyon: The world of editing has definitely changed since I started. There’s a lot more women in the editing sphere. I still try to hire female or gender non-conforming assistants to pull them up along with me.

But really, my advice to anyone is the same: you need to have tenacity if you’re going to succeed. Reach out to editors whose work you like. I sometimes get emails and if they’re discussing something very specific about the edit, I’ll often write back and talk about my process a bit.

Pay your dues. There’s a lot to learn about editing, and I answered phones for a year at Crew Cuts learning the ropes before I got promoted. 

Finally, there’s always luck involved. But you can put yourself in a position to be lucky. Keep reaching for what you want and don’t give up.

This post was written by Michelle Gallina, principal product marketing manager, Adobe Creative Cloud.

Learn more about Kelly’s work on her website.