I have never watched more than 20 minutes of student-produced television, so I’ll preface this piece by saying that a student-organized late night talk show might not be as unique as I believe it to be.
The student television programs I’ve seen are entirely terrible. I’ve only ever tuned in because I’m masochistic by nature and enjoy cringe-fueled TV practice runs by broadcast majors littered with mistakes that would only make an asshole such as myself cackle uncontrollably.
That’s what I expected from “Good Night with Jay Putnam,” a bold endeavor from students at the University of North Carolina. I anticipated a halfhearted attempt at a Jay Leno recreation, but I was wrong. It’s not terrible. It’s actually pretty watchable, and “pretty watchable” is the highest critic score a student television program can earn.
I’m not saying it’s laugh out loud funny. It’s not, really. A lot of the jokes fall flat and the host, Jay Putnam, can be slightly awkward at times. But it’s an endearing awkwardness. You feel like you’re in on the joke. You want it to be good, and they’re just on the first show. It’ll probably get better over time.
Here is a promo for opening night:
The first episode aired on YouTube last week. It’s 51 minutes and it’s not going to “wow” you, but you’ll walk away respecting the students who worked their asses off to produce a real talk show, especially the host:
It’s formulaic in nature, and it follows all the necessary late night talk show tropes set by legends like Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan. It is taped in front of a live audience, has a joke monologue, and there are interviews and a musical guest.
For the most part, this show seems like a success. People at UNC are talking about it, which alone is the biggest victory in student television programming history.
It looks like the Chapel Hill J-school is producing some elite talent for the future of TV broadcasting. They must be the only department on campus not offering “paper classes.”.
Image via YouTube