These are the strangest talk shows of all time

Not long after the advent of television entertainment, the concept of a “talk show” made the leap from radio to TV, a more formal but realistic style of programming intended to cover a topic (or series of topics) covered by the talk show host. , often with a guest. Started in 1962, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the lead role was the undisputed king of late night television for three decades. Although it was hardly the first, it introduced various talk show stacks used to this day – the opening monologue, the host sitting behind a desk, the pleasant sidekick and the hour-long structure all became structure scripts for any of the emerging chat programs to follow.

However, the media landscape has changed a lot since Carson, and with it came innumerable interpretations of that traditional talk show formula. Some versions take heavy inspiration from the original Tonight Show, while others stand out from the crowd, for good or worse, and turns the idea of ​​a talk show on its head. Here is a look back at the most notable examples of talk shows that have gone so far off track, and become so strange, that they need to be seen to be believed.

7 Fernwood 2 Night (1977)

Martin Mull and Fred Willard talk
TAT Communication Company

This satirical version of the talk show formula, set in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio, aims to not only parody traditional talk shows of that time, but also to mimic the unusual charm of Midwestern’s local broadcasting. Presented by actor / comedian Martin Mull and the late Fred Willard, who play host Barth Gimble and sidekick Jerry Hubbard respectively, Fernwood 2 Nag would often cover absurd or offensive subject with a dry and straightforward delivery, leading to hysterical and ridiculous exchanges. The program lasted only one season and was reworked America 2 Nag, to be a more professional approach to the program using the same fictitious hosts and structure, although it also only lasts one season. It is believed that the show at the time may have been too dry and satirical for general audiences, although it remains a hilarious and bizarre journey to revisit to this day.

6 Alf’s Hit Talk Show (2004)

Alf interviews Tom Arnold
Burt Dubrow Productions

You read that right, 1980s sitcom star and alien puppet, Alf, had its own short-lived talk show during the mid-2000s. Created almost 15 years after the cancellation of the original Alf Show, Alf’s Treffer Talk Show hit the airwaves on TV Land, which lasted only seven episodes before being taken off the air. Although the program is structurally not too far from the regular chat program formula with guests, monologues, interviews etc. is not what makes this program so completely weird, just how normal it really is.

The premise of a alien puppet talk show host should make way for much more of an absurd and creative approach to the formula than is presented here, which is merely a run-of-the-mill program presented just as casually by a puppet. Up to the late Ed McMahon who was the announcer / sidekick (him directly from his former pick Tonight Show position), this show fails to create a clear identity for itself, and succeeds in wasting a creative premise on a very standard and predictable format, becoming a strangely failed experiment to look back on .

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5 Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1994-2008)

The cast of Space Ghost Coast to Coast
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Stick to the theme of fictional characters presenting their own sitcom, Space Ghost Coast to Coast revive the obscure Hannah-Barbera character Space Ghost to play in his own surrealistic parody talk show. First aired on Cartoon Network before it was one of the programs created by Adult Swim (and later to the now-dissolved GameTap), the series featured the title character Ghost who interviewed celebrities in the real world and asked written questions off the wall while recreating animation from the original. Spook Space series. Outside of the guest interviews, there were brief sketches between the host and other cartoon characters, who often quarreled or made absurd inferences. The cartoon talk show was popular with teens and young adults who tuned in late at night to enjoy the bizarre premise and scenarios that the show would feature each episode, and the humor and special guests took advantage of the alternative and indie scene of the 90s. It also served as the starting point for other comic book spin-offs, like the popular Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

4 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005-2014)

Craig Ferguson dancing and singing on his desk
CBS Television Distribution

Before it was taken over by James Corden in 2015, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was a leading example of what an “anti-talk show” looks like. Host Craig Ferguson makes no secret of his contempt for the typical talk show formalities, and enjoys stepping away from the text and letting each guest speak naturally, as if it were just an average conversation between two people. This approach has often led to far more memorable interviews with celebrities than they might have provided on competitive chat shows, creating a relaxed atmosphere where awkward moments are not scrambled away, but rather embraced. To undermine typical talk show tropes in fun ways, such as having a robotic skeleton named Geoff as his partner, and a two-person horse costume as a recurring character, The Late Late Show managed to create its own identity, and remains an irreplaceable and memorable staple in strange talk show history.

3 The Max Headroom Show (1985-1987)

Max headroom
Chrysalis visual programming

An often forgotten product of his time, The Max Headroom Show featured fictional computer program presenter Max Headroom, portrayed by actor Matt Frewer, and cited as “the first computer-generated TV presenter”. Headroom was conceptualized as an AI host, which at the time parodied television presenters and used a stuttering and pitch-shifting delivery to be the feel of a real computer program. Although it was first introduced in the TV movie Maximum headroom: 20 minutes in the future, the character got his own talk show in 1985, and after his original iteration with sketches and new music videos, it was reworked to include guest entertainment segments and even a live studio audience, making it a more traditional “talk show” . The program and character, while retaining a cult following, do come down to today’s standards, although they live so much in the visual zeitgeist of the era that it’s hard not to be captivated by the strange-yet-nostalgic nature of the obscure and ‘futuristic’ Max Headroom.

2 Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis (2008-2018)

Zach Galifianakis between two ferns
Comedy Bang! Knal!

Start living as an online chat program on the Funny or The Network, Between two ferries with Zach Galifianakis is a deliberately awkward and awkward approach to the gas interview format. With host Zach Galifianakis and a well-known guest, the two, as the title suggests, sit between two potters and purposefully engage in punitive and antagonistic conversations, often leads to awkward silences or even threats from guests. Although all interviews are rehearsed, it does not affect the second-hand embarrassment the viewer experiences when incredible questions are asked of the guests, often offensive or too personal, and makes it impossible to stop watching. The program even gained enough popularity online to get its own Netflix original movie, Between two ferns: the movie.

Related: Between Two Ferns: The Movie Takes Zach Galifianakis on an All-Star Road Trip

1 The Eric Andre Show (2012)

Eric Andre cries at his desk
Warner Bros. Television distribution

Start the career of actor / comedian Erik Andre, as well as pushing the boundaries of what a traditional talk show can do, The Eric Andre Show became the example when we came up with the strangest talk shows that have ever graced our screens. The Adult Swim series thrives in surrealist absurdist humor and parodies low-budget public access television with its cheap set and deliberately unprofessional tone. Host Eric Andre attracts guests who have no idea what to expect with confused snippets and questions that, if it does not cause celebrities to laugh nervously out of fear, they see themselves completely off the set to escape. Adding these interview segments are sketches, whether in the studio (next to the regular sidekick Hannibal Buress) or interacting with real people on the street, which always delivers to make the viewer ask what it is they are even seeing, and so on. pure laughter shock of the overstimulation.

The program gained great popularity online through scenes and pieces that were re-uploaded to YouTube, and shared among people who want to see their friend’s reactions to the indefinable absurdity. When the experiences of the Eric Andre Show against the formal and sophisticated nature of talk shows in the past, one can not help but appreciate the ridiculousness of what can only be seen as the absolute strangest talk show of all time.

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