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Midnight Vultures

Staying up late with Comedy Central’s Chris Wylde and Insomniac.



The late-night people get no love, no encouragement to change their vampiric ways. As one of those nocturnal freaks who can’t even imagine going to bed before midnight, I’m well aware of this—as one of those nocturnal freaks who watches too much TV, forget about it.

Tube Stops

  • Thursday, Aug. 2: Movie: Barbarella (1968, Oxygen, 10 p.m.) Jane Fonda wears skimpy spacesuits and has freaky sex in the 41st century while trying to foil the evil plots of Duran Duran. Across the universe, warlords Kajagoogoo and Scritti Politti lie in wait.

  • Friday, Aug. 3: Manhunt (UPN, 7 p.m.) Series Debut: Thirteen boneheads are dropped on a South Pacific island, looking for a treasure chest while being hunted down by trackers with paintball guns—ain’t reality TV great? All Souls (UPN, 8 p.m.) Series Return: The haunted hospital show is back—ain’t bad summer-replacement sci-fi great?

  • Saturday, Aug. 4: The Iron Chef (Food Network, 8 p.m.) It’s a Lobster Battle! Ron Seigel takes on Sakai! Look out, Seigel’s got the foie gras! Oh, that’s gonna leave a mark! Now Sakai has the Tongs of Death! Across the universe, warlords Kajagoogoo and Scritti Politti lie in wait.

  • Sunday, Aug. 5: Movie: Office Space (1999, Comedy Central, 9 p.m.) Tube Town’s Favorite Movie Alert: A frustrated programmer goes postal and concocts a plan (actually, copies it directly from Superman II) to skim money from his company. Mind-numbing office politics, a kickin’ gangsta-rap soundtrack and Jennifer Aniston in a Hooters outfit! Yippee!

  • Monday, Aug. 6: Cannonball Run 2001 (USA, 8 p.m.) New Series: More boneheads competing for cash on a reality-TV show! This time, they’re racing tricked-out cars across America … no Dom DeLuise?

  • Tuesday, Aug. 7: Gilmore Girls (The WB, 7 and 8 p.m.) New Night: The coolest show on TV moves to Tuesdays with a two-hour block, but you’ll just keep watching that reality-TV crap, won’t you, pinheads?

  • Wednesday, Aug. 8: Wayne Brady (ABC, 7 and 7:30 p.m.) Series Debut: The singin’ dude from Whose Line is it Anyway? gets his own variety show, but only because they canned You Don’t Know Jack. Special Unit 2 (UPN, 8 p.m.) Series Return: Good-lookin’ secret agents fight icky paranormal monsters in Chicago, in town to tape for Springer.
  • The local Salt Lake City channels are part of the problem: Following NBC’s Tonight Show With Jay Leno (new set or no, it still sucks), part-time affiliate KSL 5, after all these years, still deigns not to give us the superior Late Night With Conan O’Brien right away as per the network, shoving in a Mad About You rerun buffer and pushing poor Conan back past 12 a.m. Why? Probably for the same reason KTVX 4 yanks Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher from its rightful post-Nightline timeslot and dumps it at 12:05 a.m. after syndicated Extra and Inside Edition filler. At least KUTV 2 deserves props for running CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman and The Late, Late Show With Craig Kilborn back-to-back as the network and logic intended.

    Yep, this is the kind of stuff you think about in the small hours, wondering if local TV programmers are any more intelligent than the never-ending cavalcade of brain-damaged nitwits you see on Street Smarts. That’s a strangely entertaining syndie show on KJZZ 14 at 11:30 p.m., good for killing time while waiting for Conan or P.I. on those nights when Kilborn’s throwing his Five Questions at Carmen Electra or any given Baldwin brother. Late-night factoid: Astoundingly stupid regular people flunking simple queries always trumps astoundingly stupid celebrities flunking simple queries.

    Local cable is another contributor to the bleary-eyed state—us being in the nebulous Mountain Time Zone and all. Late-night shows that are meant to air between 10 p.m. and midnight Pacific and Eastern almost always wind up in the midnight hours, or worse, here. FX’s The Test, for example, is an 11 p.m. show that’s seen here on AT&T Cable at midnight. No biggie, but programs like Comedy Central’s Daily Show With Jon Stewart, meant to air at 10 p.m., gets the midnight slot here, and sister nets MTV and VH1 are also two hours late—but, for some reason, other sister net TNN runs two hours early. What’s it all mean? Either AT&T has some calibrating to do, or I’m doing too much math on not enough sleep.

    The aforementioned Comedy Central is stepping up and taking a stab at the late-night world with two new half-hours: The Chris Wylde Show and Insomniac, both debuting Sunday, Aug. 5—well, technically, Monday, Aug. 6, since local cable-ready nightowls would see ’em at 12:30 and 1 a.m., respectively. Again with the damned math.

    Insomniac (hosted by stand-up comic Dave Attell) is a cool graveyard-shift travelogue, with Attell hitting the streets of various American cities when his comedy club gigs end, meeting up with all sorts of after-hours wackos and average Joes who work and play while everyone else sleeps. The first episode was taped in New York City, following Attell into the Hellfire Club for some S&M fun, riding with Brooklyn’s Federation of Black Cowboys, hanging with the Wall Street crowd, enjoying the stench with workers at an NYC waste-transfer station and downing as many drinks as possible before last call (4 a.m. in Noo Yawk). The Travel Channel it ain’t.

    The only remotely funny thing about The Chris Wylde Show Starring Chris Wylde is the title, and even that’s a stretch. Loosely, it’s a talk show, with a studio audience who must have been paid (or drugged) to keep from killing Wylde or themselves during the show. Wylde is stupifyingly talentless and hyperactive (always a bad combo), and he’s been taking shots at real late-night TV hosts in the press lately for not being as “edgy” and “raw” as he is—pretty ballsy, considering his latest “work” was in Joe Dirt and Comedy Central’s horrific Strip Mall. Now, if The Chris Wylde Load (I just can’t call it a “show”) actually stayed on the air long enough for him to make the talk-show rounds to try promoting it to those he’s dissed, that would be funny.

    Not surprisingly, Wylde and his “stoner” co-host “40” originated this skidmark on a university TV station, where it proved popular with the kind of dead-stupid frat-goon college students who made Creed’s last album platinum and went on to become Street Smarts guests. I’m going to bed—wake me when he’s over.