From Geek Goes Rogue TV Editor Zach W. Lorton, who still hasn’t gotten the hang of Windows 8…
It finally happened, people. The first new show of the fall season to completely capture my attention has arrived. And after my mourning period in the wake of the finale of Breaking Bad, it’s no surprise that the show to capture my imagination and stir my senses as both a writer and a comedian is a comedy. The interactive late-night comedy show @Midnight has entered my realm and taken me over.
Nightly comedy shows don’t normally keep me on the edge of my seat. I mean, really, how much time does a man in his late-30s have to devote to late night comedy? I don’t even watch Conan every night, and he’s my favorite late night host.
Chris Hardwick, former host of Singled Out and Web Soup, host of occasional talk shows Talking Bad and The Talking Dead, and heard weekly on The Nerdist podcast, spearheads this show about the joys of what we find on the internet everyday. Heck, even Geek Goes Rogue might make it on there one day.
Airing every night at midnight (natch), the show chooses the best, most trendy, or most odd pictures, posts, events, and tweets of the day and makes great fun of them at night. Like IFC’s Bunk, this is a comedy game show that features comedians as contestants. Ron Funches, Jason and Randy Sklar, Paul F. Thompkins, Iliza Shlesinger, Baron Vaughn, Judd Apatow, Natasha Leggero, and a host of other comics take stabs at giving their POV on the digital entertainment of the day, and the winner gets the title of Funniest Person in America for 23 1/2 hours.
What intrigues me about this show is that it’s different from Web Soup and its predecessor The Soup, as those programs were more along the lines of 2nd generation gossip. @Midnight sidesteps this tag by going one further and asking its contestants to do what they might normally do on their own — make up snarky comments and tweets about the topics of the day. But instead of only the host giving us those comments, they’ve opened it up to all of us.
I love this show. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the comedian in me that misses the days when I worked professional improv, and we would go out after our shows and hone our skills by telling stories, singing the Irish Drinking Song, and recalling our favorite moments from our show and other shows we’ve been a part of. There’s a camaraderie among comics that comes from a professional standpoint where we respect each others’ jokes and try not to steal from each other. When you do improv comedy, there’s a level of trust that has to be there in order for you to work with the other people in your group. If you remove that trust, you’re doomed. With stand-up, that same trust is there, but you can have friendly competition trying to one-up the other person. It happens all the time, and in that regard, @Midnight is a home run.
But what of gossip? If anything the show sheds light on what we already do from day to day — we comment, pontificate, like, and share the items we think are interesting to us. Even throughout the day, @Midnight encourages viewers to continue playing along via Twitter following the hashtag of the day, so much so that on occasion, the chosen hashtag sometimes will be one of the highest trends of the day.
Still, does this constitute gossip? I guess it depends on your bent. Are you a comedian? Then no.
I’m a comedian. Non-active, but still.
So the novelty of this show might wear off after some time, but when I think about its simplicity, it has the potential to be one of those shows that carries on far after the novelty has worn off. With the hundreds of professional comics that make their way across the country every year, there is seemingly no end to the possibilities of rapid-fire comedy in 140 characters or less.
Looking forward to it.
Zach W. Lorton is a media producer and professional DJ/MC by trade, and a comedian, actor, and musician by default. His debut music project is set to begin recording in 2014, and will likely take the world by storm, possibly in the form of a Sharknado.