Johnny DiLoretto brings “The Not So Late Show” back for second season.
“The Not So Late Show,” a monthly live talk show hosted by Johnny DiLoretto at Shadowbox Live, is exactly like a late-night TV talk show, except when it's not.
The former TV interviewer/personality will launch the second season of the show Saturday, Jan. 28. He's made some tweaks based on things learned during the seven shows from the first season, but at its core it's pretty much the concept DiLoretto envisioned almost from the day he left ABC-6/Fox 28 in 2012.
“It is exactly like a late-night talk show. The format is the same. It's music; it's comedy; it's audience interaction and conversation. But we're drinking, and so there is a slightly edgier vibe to the whole enterprise,” DiLoretto said in an interview inside Shadowbox's Backstage Bistro, where “The Not So Late Show's” “live studio audience” is live but hardly in a studio.
Pressed for further comparison/contrast between his enterprise and a televised show, DiLoretto pointed to the relative significance of the audience.
“[‘The Not So Late Show'] is a live talk show event. It is a performance. A performance in the guise of a talk show,” the host said, adding, with a knowing laugh, “that could easily be turned into a talk show for TV.”
This last comment acknowledges one of the tweaks for this season, and that is the presence of cameras. Each show is recorded live to tape with the idea of one day finding a television home.
“We'll shop it around, try to get some sponsors,” DiLoretto said.
A potential return to TV notwithstanding, DiLoretto said skills he learned from his TV news gig have augmented his natural instincts and influences — a kid from Steubenville, DiLoretto said he's “heavily influenced by Dean Martin” — all of which serve him well in “The Not So Late Show” host's chair.
DiLoretto said his style is to have a conversation with the guests rather than a strict question-and-answer session.
“I never thought I would be a good interviewer,” he said of his move from writing movie reviews for a local publication to television. “They asked me to come on [TV] and do movie reviews and I certainly wasn't going to waste that time pontificating about movies. So I started doing, you know, shtick, and being a little edgy and provocative. My interview style was always really colloquial, conversational. I like to believe that they're smart interviews, that you're going to learn something, but that you'll also have fun.”
“I was interviewing celebrities. We'd talk off-camera and they'd divulge something and I would use that, because it would make it more real,” he continued. “The audience at home would love that, when people would open up in a genuine way that they wouldn't if you're just shoving a microphone in their face and asking them by-the-book questions.”
In booking guests for “The Not So Late Show,” DiLoretto also borrows from his “Good Morning Columbus” days. He said he's naturally curious, and that he wants to shine “a spotlight on the brightest personalities, performers [and] people of note in Columbus, giving them a stage [and] a fun platform to talk about what they do and why they do it.”
“I had a lot of creative freedom [on TV]. I booked all the guests, and I loved to surprise the audience,” DiLoretto said. “One day I wanted to be doing a quick-draw contest at the Gene Autry Festival, and the next day I might be at a knitting convention. I loved the idea of, ‘What's going on with this guy?' So I approach this show the same way. I want the guests to be diverse and surprising, and I want the juxtaposition of them to be diverse and surprising.”
This month's show will have a political theme, with guests including State Representative Mike Duffey, a political scientist from Ohio University talking about health care in the face of the Affordable Care Act's uncertain future and a science segment on why people believe “fake news.”
“I've been active on Facebook as a vocal anti-Trump guy and that has generated a lot of, for me, laughs,” he said. “But there's been a lot of animosity, a lot of divisiveness. I take a humorous approach, but you can tell people are stung by it. They come back swinging [and] there's a lot of name calling. So I thought, ‘This show's going to be around the time of the inauguration, why not build it around that?' The central thing is, I don't want to be divisive … I hate to use the term ‘safe space.' Hopefully that's what we'll do, is laugh at all this stuff. Humor allows you to do that.”
From the outset, each show has included a science topic. DiLoretto has added Dan Mushalko and Robert Pyatt as permanent “science guys.” DiLoretto also likes to address, every so often, his “shark obsession.”
Rounding out the cast of regulars are co-host, comic and crowd-warmer-upper Sommer Marie Sterud and house band MojoFlo.
“Once the show gets started, it's super fun. [Johnny] has always [said], ‘Any time you want to bust my chops or jump in with a question,' and I feel like I can do that whenever it's called for,” Sterud said.
“We always felt like Columbus needed a late-night show, and along comes Johnny with this idea that was pretty much the same we'd had and we were like, ‘Yes! We'd like to be the band,'” MojoFlo singer Amber Knicole said.
“It's fun to have a different application, to be doing something that shows a different side of MojoFlo,” guitarist George Barrie said. He pointed to the band's role in providing transitions between guests (and trying to be as clever as possible in selecting appropriate introduction music for each) and in audience interaction, as with the “Hat Game,” in which two hats are passed: one with a selection of cover songs and a second with music styles, meaning the band could play a Justin Bieber tune in country style, for example.
While DiLoretto is the engine that makes all the show's wheels go, ultimately, he said, it's about serving the audience.
“The two things I most want are for people to learn something, and to laugh,” he said.