Thoughts on a late night chat show?

Now we’ve seen a full season of Mick Molloy doing a chat show – with a twist – after Micallef got bent around by management at 9; Parky’s been around forever and Denton’s picked up that format and thrown in a tear-jerker question at the halfway point; and Letterman has inspired any number of pretenders from Vizard to Rove, I wonder what the Boxcutters family want in a late night talk show.

What do you want to see in a one hour chat show with a personable host and a musical combo on the side? Should there be a monologue? Should the host do a song from time to time?

Does it need to try to be a comedy or can it be sustained with intelligent conversation? A barrel or wheel? Audience interaction? SMS voting? We’ve come a long way from Don Lane’s barrel but would it still work today?

Any thoughts invited – it’s a blank canvas.


  1. Follow the American talk show formula. Like Leno or Letterman.

    Walk to Desk
    Guest 1
    Guest 2
    Musical Act

    Include a band, announcer. No shitty 1960’s barrels etc… I love late night shows and the American formula is the best.

  2. Rob Boxcutter says:

    This would probably be a production nightmare but if it were to be a nightly show I’d like to see five different hosts, each one owning their night of the week with their individual style (some funny, some serious, some seriously experimental), possibly with a few unifying threads running through all the shows (whether a band or just some regular nightly segments). I imagine the five nights would lend themselves to different demographics (perhaps vastly so).

    I don’t mind Letterman, for example, but every night of the week? The things that irritate me about his style are what make me watch him only occasionally.

    Similarly with Denton, I really love the format and how incredibly well prepared he is as an interviewer, and how seemingly effortlessly (with good editing, no doubt) he leads the subject and us through a probing but entertaining conversation, but it would be much too much five nights a week.

    I reckon a network brave enough to try this sort of experiment, and fortified enough to let it run for a few months to build its audience, perhaps tweaking it here and there, could end up with a valuable piece of (late night) real estate.

    Let’s up the risk factor and start with five relative unknowns: why not foster new talent as long as we’re experimenting. I guess experimenting is the keyword. I don’t want just something I’ve seen elswehere. I want to be surprised. If I don’t like it I can try tuning in the next night; that host’s style might suit me better.

    Also, let’s have some women hosting!

  3. Music on television is dead. We all have remotes and itchy fingers: 30 seconds of a song we don’t like and we’re off.

    Zingers are dead. ‘Bad joke! [pause for applause] [cut to band leader] [drum sting] [cut back to host] [5 seconds of awkward grinning] Another bad joke! [rinse, repeat]

    Corny ‘news’ segments that follow one sentence of actual news with a poor joke/pun are dead.

    Britain seems to have the right idea at the moment. Your Paul O’Grady, your Graham Norton, your Jonathan Ross. They all feel modern, they’re slick, they’re tightly constructed, and you don’t have to like either the hosts or their guests in order to lazily sit through half an hour or so.

    The other obvious example would be The Daily Show: probably not technically a chat show, but close enough that it carries roughly the same vibe.

  4. Norton is terribly unfunny and annoying. No thanks to English “comedians”. Daily Show is good but not a late night “talk show” really. I also hate news late night shows like Coast to Coast and The Nation. Comedy Talk shows are more interesting when done right.

  5. Norton is so dull – “Ooh look at me… OI’m so GAY – isn’t that hilarious! Oop… OI’m going to say it… yes OI am… COCK!”

    So what’s the point of difference in following the standard Letterman/Leno format? Obviously it didn’t work at 9 – they never cared if Letterman was airing at 4am…

    The Daily Show is an excellent example of comedy/news – presented by a genius – but it’s not what we’re looking at here.

    Let’s tighten the boundaries a little – it’s a 1 hour, weekly show.

  6. Default option is the Letterman model – maybe my memory is playing tricks, but even Steve Vizard & Richard Stubbs couldn’t F@#k it up too badly.

    And why is it that daytime shows hit the mark so effectively, but late night can’t? Say what you will about Kerrie-Ann K, Bert Newton (ver 10.0), or any of the others who in recent years managed hours and hours of live TV, several days a week. Now, I don’t *like* their shows, nosiree I don’t – but there’s no question they have a solid idea of the show they are/ were trying to be and hit that mark pretty effectively.
    Sure they’d need to be tightened up and tweaked for a late night audience, but who’s to say KAK couldn’t adjust?

    It seems for whatever reason the local audience just flat out prefer panel-type late night shows (previously the Panel, the Fat; currently Spicks&Specks, RockWhiz, various ‘Footy Shows’, whatever crap Paul McDermot hosts this year)
    I’d suggest there’s probably enough to have one of them, most nights of the week.

    Also – Dave Letterman and Jay Leno are Late Night Hosts. As per ‘the Late Shift’, being a Late Night Host is all they’ve ever wanted to be. They lust after and covet the role. Who in Australia has wants to commit themselves so completely to becoming a talk show specialist? Rove, obviously, but who else?

  7. ActualChad says:

    The Late Show, nightly.

    Ensemble cast working together, with different combinations taking the lead as and when they have something funny.

    I realise that it’s a huge strain on the writers’ wrists, but if Tonight shows can be done here and overseas in the past, why not now?

    I would prefer less plain interviews and musical acts, but sometimes you’ve gotta plug/fill.

    The most important aspect: surprising yet comfortable. You need the wow factor of “didn’t expect that” with an element of “…and that’s why I like to end my day watching these guys…”

  8. Mike & Brett: I agree totally (ever see So Graham Norton? jeeeeeezus) but the new show has slick, reasonably tight production values that at least keep the whole mess moving at a pace that sustains some interest. Jonathan Ross is better.

    MordWa’s got an excellent point about presence. You might be rubbish, your jokes might belong in the 1950s, but if you have considerable charisma and serve your demographic well, you don’t need much else.

    Having said all that, I was going to deliver a golden proposal for a weekly chat show but got stuck at nominating a host.

  9. Speak of which, whatever happened to Darren & Brose? Darren Chau in particular seemed pretty hellbent on being a talk show overlord.

  10. Which in turn reminds me (sorry about all the posts) that Josie Parrelli’s now damn close to having a workable modern variety format. Ironically. It’s certainly far more entertaining than the alternatives.

  11. How about a live animated character talking to guests ? Yeah that might work.

  12. Quart de Cinq – oh, I’m sorry, had a Julia Zemira moment (what the frak is with her whole french obsession?! – tres annoying. I duuno about animated; If it were Space Ghost, maybe. Kent Brockman, certainly. Daffy Duck – abolutely.
    Tench? Noooooot so much…

    Personally, I’m waiting for Kermit the Frog or Basil Brush to make a late-night comeback.
    Working ‘blue’, of course 🙂

  13. err, ‘absolutely’

  14. Julia is French – that’s her whole thing about it. I agree with you on it being annoying – I couldn’t stand her for it for some time. I’m not sure if I’ve learned to ignore it or if she’s doing less of it but I do find her less offensive these days.

    Speaking of Josie Parrelli, she has a show coming up in the Fringe festival in Melbourne. Check the programme closer to October 5th for details.

  15. i’m bored stupid with the trad formats, and working dog group at least managed something a bit different with the late show and panel, taken on by the chaser boys.

    how about tony biggs in to host….something? he could pull off both serious and comedy, could probably get wonderful acts to play if there were to be a musical segment.

    a panel of hosts – biggsy, josie, marieke too perhaps? this could only be late night teev.

  16. catbrain says:

    a panel of hosts – biggsy, josie, marieke too perhaps? this could only be late night teev.

    jebo, who are you?! You know that only Ch31 would come close to touching a show with that line-up…

    Getting back to the original question: I think the idea of the host doing a song from time to time smacks of Daryl Somers – something I never want to see again.

    If it’s going to be a chat show, it’s bound to go at least partly the same way as most others, in terms of format – even Micallef Tonight followed the tried-and-true format. I think the discussion should concentrate more on content, and the only thing I can offer in that vein is NO FLUFF PIECES, PLEASE! If I want sycophants I’ll watch Richard Wilkins or Angela Bishop.

  17. Wait. Yes. Micallef Tonight. That right there is the perfect chat show. Discussion over.

  18. yes, i know, but a girl can dream, can’t she catbrain? besides, brett didnt specify which network the show had to appear on. if the creators could just ensure country-wide distribution….(we dont get chartbusting 80’s here in perth – i’ve only seen that wee clip and heard raves)

    i was a huge fan of “under melbourne tonight” in it’s day – when i lived in melb. lots of melbourne’s finest hosting little segments and competition like “send us a bottle of whisky”. the boxcutters “send us mars bars” reminded me of that.

    that said, i’m happy to concur with adam d. three cheers for micallef.

  19. Yep. In fact, the more I think about it, the more obvious it is.

    Micallef’s show had everything – a band, musical guests, omgfamous interviews, humour that was properly funny, a competition (such as it was), novelty segments, the works.

    Its only error was being too intelligent for the type of people 9 wanted watching, e.g. my parents. ‘That Michael-F show is stupid’ etc.

  20. catbrain says:

    Adam D, did your parents really call it that? That’s fuckin’ hilarious!

  21. Very few people can pronounce his name correctly (compounded, of course, by his own insistence on pronouncing it 500 different ways in order to confuse everyone: ‘It’s Shaun Macawdrem!!’).

  22. Oh, and to answer your question, I don’t think they ever finished pronouncing his name.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.