It was a dark and stormy night mid-November of last year when Elias Bartholomew ’17, Nate File ’17 and Angelo Pis-Dudot ’17 had a big laugh together. They were giggling for hours, like they normally do, but for some reason that night was different. There was something magical happening. Suddenly, without anyone counting off or anything, all three men exclaimed, “Let’s create Yale’s first and only late-night style comedy show!” They all covered their mouths with their hands, shocked and amazed at what had happened, and slowly backed out of the room.
From that point forward none of the three could deny what had happened that night. They immediately set to work recruiting the best and the brightest: big names like Charlie Bardey ’17, Mikayla Harris ’17 and Jordan Coley ’17. It was a ragtag group of writers, actors and funny people, and yet from it blossomed something truly wonderful.
The Good Show is a late-night style talk show that includes sketches, hilarious invented guest stars, real guest stars and musical guest stars. The show isn’t even one year old, but the cast has already performed six times in locations all around this campus, and I was one of the lucky few to get a seat at last Friday’s edition in JE: The demand was so high they had to turn people away at the door.
Despite an apparently traditional set-up featuring two hosts who joke about current events, the show constantly surprised the audience by bending or even abandoning those established guidelines. Since this show, being the year’s first, was intended to recruit new members, the theme was auditions. Mid-show, two cast members took the stage and pretended to audition the hosts, prodding them to repeat their lines in different personas — including that of a pig farmer.
Part of the Good Show’s magic comes from its newness. Unlike other groups on campus, it has no precedent and therefore a lot of flexibility. This promises a strong future for the show, which I predict will grow and change in ways no one imagined — perhaps even the cast-members themselves. The show’s collaborative nature also contributes to its ever-changing tone: instead of having a director, the show’s production team makes all decisions together, meaning there is no one vision for how a show will turn out. In one particularly zany bit from Friday, Coley emerged onstage dressed as a Jamaican chef who had forgotten to bring any of her food with her. In doing so, Coley mocked the traditional role of the talk show guest as someone witty, prepared and put together.
This lack of a unified vision also makes producing the show something of a roller coaster: Even now, with all their success, those who help produce the show still feel amazed that they are pulling it off. Most went into the Good Show without experience in comedy writing or acting, and are learning on the fly. This sort of environment lends itself to exploration and boundary-breaking comedy. It’s how real innovation happens.
And the collaborative spirit behind the Good Show doesn’t stop with the production team. In the past, the hosts have sat down with guests such as Yale College Council President Michael Herbert ’16 and Dean Jonathan Holloway. Their discussions range from hilarious to hard-hitting. In addition, they invite musical guests to perform at the show’s end: On Friday, Seungju Hwang ’17 and the Squadettes performed their own version of Uptown Funk, adding yet another artistic dimension to the show.
The next Good Show will be on October 16th in the JE theater at 8pm. I’m looking forward to what the cast has in store for us and what absurd and hilarious ideas they come up with over the next couple of dark and stormy nights.