Many things have changed quite a lot in just a few weeks, and this includes the look and feel of the late night television landscape. After forgoing audiences for a few episodes and then taking a break from full shows, our current crop of late night talk show hosts returned to the airwaves in force earlier this week. But, they have to do the same thing the rest of us are doing, so Trevor Noah, Jimmy Fallon, Samantha Bee, et al. are mostly working form the confines of their homes. This, in turn, has led to what one late night producer calls "super janky" techniques to get shows done and on the air.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and the many other late night shows which are now filming shows from their hosts' homes have had to go through many other changes beside recording celebrity interviews over video chat and trying to figure out the best area of a house to turn into a de facto TV studio, only to have Martha Stewart be salty about their design choices.
The creatives behind these shows are also working from home, and according to what Daily Show With Trevor Noah executive producer Jen Flanz told The Hollywood Reporter, it's meant using some out of the box techniques to get everything done on time.
We have to write, produce and record everything much earlier in the day because, since everyone is home, the post process takes much longer. Instead of watching the final show edit in the control room or an edit bay, we’re now screening final show edits on FaceTime held up to an editor's home computer screen. It's super janky, but it works.
Wow. That does sound like a janky work situation, right? And you thought you had problems these past couple of weeks having to video chat Barb in accounting every time you need approval on an invoice. Of course you're tired of seeing her cat's butt on your screen every few hours, but at least you're not trying to put together a whole TV show that way. You'd never get the sight of that fluffy butthole out of your head if that were the case. The nightmares...
The new work from home normal has been difficult on a lot of people, but when you're dealing with graphics and other large files that can't just be transferred from one office to another over a strong business internet connection, it makes assembling a completed late night show even harder. Luckily, the shows are trying to accept the current situation and even use it to help make these new "janky" shows connect with audiences. Gavin Purcell, showrunner of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon noted:
[We are] leaning into the idea that the production is going to feel a little bit sloppy. Not that that’s great, but also that is OK as we are kind of figuring all this stuff out a little bit. It's why I think Jimmy interacting with his family and seeing his daughters and all this stuff has been such a cool thing for us to be able to lean into, because everybody is kind of going through this...Why not reflect the reality of it all?
Everyone is working to make the best of things so that they can continue to bring some levity to the millions who feel trapped at home right now. For Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, this includes finding a work-around to the way things have been done over the past couple of weeks. About those ideas, executive producer Alison Camillo said:
Honestly, some of the ideas that have come up, some of the creativity as far as how we’re going to frame these pieces filming everything apart from each other has been really interesting. I think everybody realizes that watching a Zoom call after a while is not going to be the most riveting television, so we’re trying to figure out how to make a new world where you can film everything and make it look great and also still be very dynamic and active.
I'm sure we all look forward to whatever new ideas these folks come up with, but, to be blunt, it's just really nice to have even the tiniest bit of normalcy back in daily life, so just having all these shows back on air, janky or not, is a real treat.