Imagine a late night talk show with an audience of one [video]

The other day Craig Ferguson, who hosts the Late Late Show on CBS, did his show without an audience (video below). Interesting. As he pointed out, he wasn’t the first late night host to do a show without an audience. I was glad to hear his history of late night television pretty much end with David Letterman, who Ferguson said “deconstructed” the late night talk show.

But there’s one other person who nightly deconstructed the format, making people think about our relationship to communication, comedy, and audience. He wasn’t as talented as David Letterman, but Alan Havey was a pioneer in the infancy of original cable television shows. Night After Night with Alan Havey (fan site) aired from 1998-1992 on the Comedy Channel, which morphed into Comedy Central.

Havey had many great bits, but one thing that made the show so jarring was the “audience of one”. That’s right, there was only one audience member (they called the the person the “audient”). Here’s the story of one audient, Andrew DiMino. Check out the last video, because there you see that the show crew applauds the audience of one, while Havey points out that the audience is supposed to do the applauding.

If I’m going to stay up late to watch television, I want to be compelled to watch. I want to watch something I’ve never seen before; and if there’s a guest, I want them to say something I’ve never heard them say before. That’s why Leno is so lame — it’s all been said and done before. No surprise or spontaneity. Nothing original to keep you awake with Leno. Put your head on the pillow and sweat dreams.

So, watch a clip from Night After Night featuring the audience of one, then check out Craig Ferguson.

For more of a taste of Night After Night, check out a full introduction to the show: