Maybe someday in the far distant future, television producers will realize that coming up with something new, fun and original takes a little more than a change in color. Comedian George Lopez’s new late-night talk show, , premiered this past Monday on TBS. Billing itself as a new, edgy show designed to appeal to a more multicultural audience in a similar manner to the (ask your parents if you haven’t heard of it). While it certainly embraces the multicultural or racial aspect of its promise, the show’s first episode fails to really take off in a way that sets it apart from the usual fare.
One of the main emphases of the show is on the party vibe. The format of the show is much more colorful and laid-back with the music encouraging a dance party environment.
“Well first of all, my set, I don’t have a desk. I don’t have a city behind me. I’m trying not to use cards. It looks more like a club,” Lopez said in a conference call with the .
The show opened like most other late-night programs with a bit of stand-up from Lopez. This was one of the higher points of the show, Lopez’s jokes ranging from clever observations on children today to witticisms about approaching middle-age. His anecdote about living with his slightly, racist grandmother was particularly noteworthy and relatable. The jokes never came off as too raunchy or too edgy and were amusing enough to hold interest.
Following this was a brief sketch. The bit involved people being asked to judge a person based on their stereotype and then seeing if that type holds true. This involves, for example, seeing someone who looks like “white trash” and being asked if he has ever used the “n-word.”
Lopez claims that this skit was meant to show the follies of prejudice and racism, but many of the stereotypes hold true in the examples shown. Watching this section of the show is actually a little uncomfortable, as Lopez seems to see the world through race and embraces many of those stereotypes as being true.
“Being of a different ethnicity and a different comedic approach, I don’t think we’re going after the same audience,” Lopez said.
This particular section of the show was definitely a low point, as the show seemed to have completely degenerated into cheap racial puns.
However, what can be praised is the audience-oriented environment of the sketch and the show in general. Later in the show, there was a cameo appearance by Ellen DeGeneres, who gave advice to Lopez and complementary Jell-O shots to everyone else.
“At the end of every show the audience is welcome to join me on stage and dance… while the band plays and I say my good night every night. I love that aspect of a late night show at the end that the party looks like it’s continuing beyond the hour it’s supposed to be on,” Lopez said.
Kobe Bryant was the main guest star in this episode and Lopez’s interview style seems similar to all the other hosts albeit being slightly more laid-back. It’s hard to gauge Lopez’s interviewing skills based on such on an easy-going interview, but what can be said is that there’s a slight element of creativity in having another Lakers player, Derek Fisher, hidden amongst the audience as a surprise.
Also guess-starring was actress Eva Longoria. The “surprise” for her interview was a pole-dance from both her and Lopez.
The show ended with a performance by Carlos Santana. Lopez has said that bands featured on the show will continue to represent a diverse array of styles and cultures.
Ultimately, the show gave a solid first episode, but failed to break new ground. The guests were famous, but no different than the usual fare. The skits and humor gave occasional laughs, but because of the nature of the jokes, were always sprinkled with that sense of racial uneasiness. There’s more to originality than being a different ethnicity and until Lopez realizes that, the material will be no different than his competition.