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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TALK SHOW FORMULA

I've been watching the late night talk shows for a number of years. I clearly remember Johnny Carson, Jack Parr, Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Jay Leno, and a variety of substitutes, not to mention the current crop of hosts such as David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, et al. When I watch today's shows though, I've come to the inescapable conclusion that they're no longer funny, just boringly predictable as they all follow a formula. Let me illustrate:

1. Each show opens with a monologue of jokes pertaining to current events of the day and people in the news. There is the customary slam of political figures, both Democratic and Republican. The host then reviews who is on the show that evening.

2. Commercial break.

3. The host performs some sort of comic routine. For example, Leno had his "Headlines" and "Jaywalking" routines; Letterman had his "Stupid Pet Tricks"; and Carson had "Carnac" and "Stump the Band." All of the hosts have some sort of gimmick they follow.

4. Commercial break.

5. Next, we have our first guest of the evening, usually a motion picture star hawking his or her latest film. This is interrupted by a commercial break, and finished afterwards.

6. Commercial break.

7. Following this, we have the next guest who is allowed nothing more than five minutes with the host.

8. Commercial break.

9. Finally, the show is concluded by either a musical group or rising comedian.

Applause, applause, and we're out.

Day in, day out, the talk shows dare not deviate from the formula. So much so that you can't even tell the difference between a rerun and a live show.

I guess what I'm driving at is they have all lost their spontaneity. We no longer have guests who just "drop by" such as a Bill Cosby, Charles Nelson Riley, Dick Shawn, George Goebel, Jonathan Winters, and Paul Lynde, who came on Carson's show to liven things up, not to sell anything. Jack Parr was known to periodically change his format to possibly focus on one interview or to take his show on the road to such places as Berlin or Africa. In other words, one of the main reasons you watched the show is because you didn't know what to expect, but you knew it would be interesting and entertaining.

This tells us either the entertainment field lacks creativity, or the American public is content with mediocrity, or both. Either way, I feel sorry for a young guy like Jimmy Fallon who will never be allowed to improvise and try something different, just follow formula.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim's Pet Peeves, click HERE.

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Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.