After Midnight finally made its debut January 16 in the timeslot formerly held by James Corden.
Hosted by comedian Taylor Tomlinson, the show is a reboot of the old Comedy Central game show @midnight, which ran for 600 episodes on the sibling Paramount-owned network. For those who didn’t see the original version, imagine a combination of Who’s Line Is It Anyway? and Tosh 2.0: it’s an internet-themed panel game show that challenges comedians to come up with the best yuks during a series of improv games.
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For the premiere, Whitney Cummings battled it out against Aparna Nancherla (former writer on Late Night with Seth Meyers) and Kurt Braunohler (former host of IFC’s Bunk) in front of a studio audience for the grand prize of “my father’s approval,” quipped Tomlinson. “It is rare but winnable.”
“We are taking the internet and desperately trying to make it fun,” began Tomlinson. “It’s a game show but the points are fake.”
The first comp was called Group Chat, in which the comedians are given a series of punchline challenges after viewing an internet meme. Tomlinson asked them to name things they never want to see googled in the moment; Braunohler said, “how to dispose of wet pants in front of a studio audience.”
After each “joke,” Tomlinson grants a certain amount of points to whoever makes her laugh.
Next up was a game called hashtag wars. The comedians are given a hashtag — in this case, #lesserknowntvshows — and tasked with coming up with a bunch of silly show titles in 60 seconds. Among the offerings: Bottom Chef, NCIS: Modesto, The Gimpsons, Sex and the City of Hoboken, Rand Paul’s Drag Race, and Kenny Roger’s Neighborhood.
Other comps included What I Can’t Live Without (the comedians had to guess the meaning behind several random products that can be found on the internet) and Suburban Dictionary (comedians are given popular slang words like bussin, yeet, mid and lewk and required to use like them like a suburban parent would). This was arguably the best (see: funniest) game of the night, with Braunohler and Nancherla sharing the best answers.
But Cummings was a great sport about her low score.
After an elimination game called “Is this Still Cool,” Cummings was cut from the competition and forced to deliver a parting speech. “I believe this show is rigged and you are all jealous pigs,” she said.
For the win, Braunohler and Nancherla had to come up with made-up holidays. Nancherla won after creating “Ashley Wednesday.” As a reward, she will receive the approval of Tomlinson’s dad!
Contestants for Wednesday’s show are Paul F. Tompkins, Sophie Buddle and Carl Tart, followed by The Neighborhood star Max Greenfield, Ike Barinholtz and Robby Hoffman on Thursday.
Jack Martin, who was the showrunner of all four seasons of @midnight, serves as co-showrunner alongside Eric Pierce, who has exec produced series including CBS’ The Challenge: USA and The Wheel. They EP alongside Stephen Colbert, Carrie Byalick, president of Colbert’s Spartina Industries, Tom Purcell, an exec producer on The Late Show, Colbert’s wife Evelyn McGee Colbert and his manager James Dixon of Dixon Talent, as well as Joe Farrell, Mike Farah, Whitney Hodack and Henry R. Muñoz III from Funny Or Die.
Jason U. Nadler of Serious Business, who co-created @midnight, is also an executive producer.
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