Quo Vadimus

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


I Like These Shows, Do You Like These Shows?, first in a series. #001:

Night After Night with Allan Havey (The Comedy Channel/Comedy Central, 1989-1992).

Allan Havey used to put on a really good late-night comedy show. The early, 3-hour, clip-heavy shows were free-form fun. You'd get John Cleese and Michael Palin arguing in a pet boutique mixed in with Susie Essman in front of a brick wall talking about a bridal shower gone awry, or a Bill Hicks rant on smoking. You might even catch a glimpse of a Higgins boy or Gruber from the adjacent set. When guests stopped by, it retained a loose, public access-y charm (one episode featured The Kids in the Hall just hanging out for a couple of hours, sort of promoting the arrival of their reruns on the network). It eventually transformed into a wonderfully intimate, sotto voce version of Letterman (sure, there was a Carson influence, too). The strength of the show was the interplay between Havey and sidekick/announcer Nick Bakay, a sharp wordsmith who could offer hearty guffaws without lapsing into McMahonomania, and also provide some nice character work. In other words, a non-musical Paul to Havey's Dave.

NAN was remarkably quiet and relaxed, which is interesting for the genre. The show was also never that dependent on guests, so there were a lot of segments where Havey had room to riff or tell a story that meandered a bit before the punchline got a wave of chuckles. Most episodes ended with Havey looking into the camera and addressing a single viewer, offering a whispery parting shot.

Was there a studio audience? Sometimes, but seating was limited.

posted by Linus | 7:14 AM