Late Night Talkers

By Andrew Andrews

We still love a good variety show, even though it’s been ages since we’ve reviewed one.

When we learned that the Speak Up, Rise Up storytelling festival (which “aims to amplify the voice of communities and people we don’t get to hear from”) would include a variety show called Late Night Talkers, we decided it was time to put an end to that dry spell.

Hosted by writer Chelsea Davison from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she opened the show with a few jokes rejected for Fallon’s opening monologue—which, in our humble opinion, totally should have made it—then introduced the evening’s performers.

“You’ll see why they’re successful,” she promised, “and also why they are on late at night.”

First up, Alison Leiby from The President Show talked about her introduction to masturbation during her adolescent years, including her stint with a sparkly green vibrator she nicknamed Shrek’s dick.

“Who here masturbates,” she asked, “Show of hands?”

We didn’t see any hands go up.

Maybe they were already busy.

Greg Iwinski, a writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, was next to the stage, recalling the time that a bug crawled into his ear while he was sleeping and the ordeal of getting it out.

Needless to say, we were squirming in our seats over the gory details!

After Iwinski cleared his ear, Davison cleared the air with some of her rejected “thank you notes” from The Tonight Show.

Next, Ariel Dumas (also a writer for Colbert) shared a short story she dubbed Small Talk, about an elf living in the home of Robert Mueller who serves as a sounding board for the investigator late at night while he’s combing through classified documents in search of evidence.

Returning to the Fallon camp, writer Alex Song informed us that she was a lesbian—yep, just like the porn genre!—then shared her disturbing experience being committed for three days to a psychiatric hospital.

Last up, comedian Aaron Jackson from The Opposition w/Jordan Klepper lightened things up with his story of how he came out, only to give heterosexuality “one last change to see if it sticks.”

“It’s fun and easy to be a white gay boy,” he explained, before recounting the hilarious time he was compelled to “dispose of the evidence” after he used the bathroom but the toilet wouldn’t flush.

Wrapping up the show, Davison returned to the stage and recalled her short-lived experience performing as part of the “agressively multicultural” reboot of MATtv.

“Is ‘chubby’ a culture?” she joked, imagining a conversation with the producers where they asked her to explain butter to people in Los Angeles as part of her Midwest heritage.

So there you have it… we’re back in the business of reviewing variety shows, and yes, it feels great to be back!

Our only regret is that we can’t tell you to check out Late Night Talkers because—like most of the shows in the festival—it was a one-time-only performance.

The good news is: there are plenty of other shows in Speak Up, Rise Up between now and it’s conclusion this Sunday.

So check out the lineup, check out a few shows, then come back and tell us about your experiences!

Your reviews help others decide if the festival is right for them, and your ratings help us help you find future performances you’re sure to love!


Andrew Andrews attended Late Night Talkers at The Tank in Manhattan on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 @ 8:00pm to write this review.