Sunday 16 December 2018

Ryan 'doesn't do comedy' - which is unlike most of the tv chat show world

Talking recently about the imminent return of the Late Late Show, Ryan Tubridy made an interesting observation.

"The Late Late Show is not like anything else, particularly nowadays," he said. "It was like other shows once upon a time, but it's not now because everything is comedy-based."

Pointing out how every successful chat show is now presented by someone with a background as a comedian, he referred to Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, even Letterman and Leno.

"All of them are comedians and as you well know that's the last thing I am," Ryan reminded us.

It is, indeed, a minor miracle that RTE not only continues to draw huge numbers for the Late Late, but also does very respectable figures the very next night for The Saturday Night Show.

But despite this obvious trend, the list of Irish TV presenters queuing up to the next Ryan Tubridy grows longer by the day.

Lucy Kennedy has spoken of her desire to have a chat show, having had one in the past on TV3. Pat Kenny has intimated that his new UTV show will follow the traditional chat show format.

Just last week, three further people threw their hats into the ring.

Marty Whelan said he would "love a chat show", before pondering out loud about how much he'd like the Late Late chair on a Friday.

Anna Daly described how time constraints on Ireland AM often mean having to cut interviews short - "you have a great interview that's 25 minutes long, but you can only put out 10 minutes, so that can be restrictive" - a problem which would, of course, be fixed by having her own chat show.

And at TV3's autumn launch, Brian Dowling, despite having only just got a new game show on their schedule, revealed his ambitions to get his teeth into something meatier.

"Let's put it this way," said Brian. "I want a chat show."

And the most obvious factor that this disparate group of presenters have in common, talented as they are in their own ways, is that none of them are comedians.

And quite why they all want this same thing, given the direction that the format is heading, is slightly curious.

The days of Michael Parkinson or Gay Byrne coaxing shocking secrets out of his guests are gone.

Chat shows are no longer about insight - they are about entertainment. Why would someone hold back a secret to reveal on TV, and give all the plaudits to the show that revealed it, when they can release instantly to millions of people from their personal twitter account?


It's difficult to get away from the feeling that one of the main motivations for people wanting their own chat show is ego.

Your name on the show. The well-known guest calling you by that name. The fact that you're not sharing the stage with any pesky co-presenters, or having to cut away to some outside broadcast distraction. Sure, the camera is on the guest, but it's on you just as much.

Ireland may be slow to catch up with the rest of the world, but it always does eventually.

And when our chat shows catch up with the UK and the US, it will only mean one thing. The next presenter of the Late Late Show won't be Kathryn Thomas or Nicky Byrne.

It will be Oliver Callan or Mario Rosenstock.

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