Talk shows have been part of the popular culture for decades. Network television brought about the golden age in prime time Talk Shows from 1949 to 1973. Late night shows came a little later, after studio bosses figured that it is highly cost effective to produce a ‘casual’ talk show than a sitcom. Also, legends like Jack Paar, Johnny Carson made these shows addictive, with their monologues, guffaw inducing tete-a-tete with famous celebrities and becoming a mouthpiece of sorts for commentaries on issues, like The Oprah Windfrey Show or even The Jerry Springer show.
The Late night shows :
Present day television, streaming services are abound with Late night shows with the Jimmy brigade and the occasional Stephen and John. While each host brings with them a particular signature diacritic, Talk shows are about the guests and the easy flowing content. In fact, NBC went as far as erasing the first 10 years of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show assuming that audiences would not be interested in the banter and gossip of few friends and acquaintances. And boy, they were wrong! With social media reaching every bedroom and in everyone’s pockets, these shows get a great rerun value. I watch the Lip Sync Battle on Jimmy Fallon’s show on repeat sometimes (even though his over zealous laughs get me distracted to be honest) while Stephen Colbert is so compelling for it’s monologues.
The Graham Norton Show :
But it is Graham Norton who just makes me the happiest. He is one host who has a certain flair for conversing with his guests which makes his segments all the more indulgent and funny. Into it’s twelvth year now, Graham has got a base of loyalists like me who hang on to every quips he makes and the famous gesticulations. And his guests concur. Matt Damon, who is famous for the long standing ‘feud’ with another Talk show veteran, Jimmy Kimmel, called his time at the Graham Norton Show as the best time he ever had on a Talk show. That is great compliment, coming from a A-lister and fan favourite like Damon. Norton does not believe in antics and games like, say a Fallon. What is endearing about him is the languid conversations and getting everyone relaxed on the couch as they reveal on-set shenanigans, personal lives or share a rare kiss (yes Paul Rudd, we are looking at you!)
The Guests :
The best guests at the show are obviously the superstars, like Tom Hanks, Tom Crusie and Will Smith. Even Graham gushed that he finds it hard to believe those stars have descended on his couch and he is getting to ask them all those weird questions, while the audience gawks. Most of his acts seem fluid and without preparation, but as he himself mentioned, few of the ‘spontaneous’ pieces are planned. He can be excused for that, because he gets the best out of his guests even when they are doing a breakdance (Michael Fassbender) or when he is reading ‘thirsty tweets’ to Michael B. Jordan, even as he blushed the entire time.
If you have not seen any episode, just visit Youtube and start with any clip you can find. I am sure you will have a binge-fest for the night!