The Rundown: Remembering The Time Adam Pally And Ben Schwartz Almost Broke Late-Night TV

02.01.19 3 weeks ago 2 Comments

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The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — An anniversary of chaos

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the time Adam Pally and Ben Schwartz guest-hosted The Late Late Show on CBS. This momentous occasion was brought to my attention, as most things are now, by a tweet. I was very happy to read the tweet, both because it reminded me to watch the episode again and because it gives me an excuse to talk about it a lot, which I am doing now.

Let’s start with the why. CBS was between hosts for its Late Late Show at the time. Craig Ferguson had left and James Corden had yet to take over. A series of fill-ins were plopped into the slot as placeholders. One of these fill-ins was former Happy Endings star Adam Pally, who followed Regis Philbin on the schedule and brought his dear friend and comedy collaborator Ben Schwartz, probably best known as Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation.

Now let’s move to the circumstances. A blizzard hit New York the night before and brought a substantial chunk of New York to a halt. The guests had to be frantically replaced. CBS flew Pally out from Los Angeles in a wretched coach seat. They were set up in Charlie Rose’s news studio with no audience to assist via laughter. The crew was not especially pleased about any of it and, according to Pally, hated him.

It was a perfect set-up for disaster. Nothing should have worked. Instead, what happened was television magic, for an entire hour. Oh, it was chaos. I won’t lie to you about that. It played out kind of like a public access show hosted by the funniest people you know. There was no monologue. There did not appear to be any written jokes. Pally and Schwartz just riffed a bunch, joked about Nicolas Cage movies (Pally’s “the soup is hot” bit is so good), and gave what amounted to a running commentary on how bad it was going. There was a filmed segment — not included in the video I linked to above, which is upsetting — in which Pally got a tattoo. Again, chaos.

Also, the guests were:

  • Tight end Martellus Bennett, who appeared via satellite from the Super Bowl and discussed fonts and movies
  • Beth Stern, wife of Howard, who talked mostly about kittens
  • Eric Andre, who showed up almost shirtless and did a very bad Benicio del Toro impression before spinning around in his chair and banging on the desk

And reader, all of them were delightful.

(I should also point out that the way I consumed this episode was kind of ideal, given the chaotic circumstances. I watched it live, on a small television screen in a small curtained-area in the emergency room, where I was getting treated for an absolutely blistering fever. I was flat on my back, sweating and shivering and laughing my damn fool head off. I wondered for a while if my enjoyment of the whole thing had to do with the fever, or if I had just hallucinated it from beginning to end, but I’ve gone back and watched it more than a few times since and I can confirm it is just as fun with a healthy mind and body.)

A part of me wishes this episode had resulted in Pally getting his own late-night show, with Schwartz in tow. It was so good and I would very much love to have more of it. The truth is, however, that it’s already pretty much perfect as is. It was this weird little comet that shot across the sky one night out of nowhere. If it happened every night, I think we’d take it for granted. No, I’ll just go back and watch it now and then and be thankful — amazed, to be honest — that it ever happened.

Happy anniversary, blessed show. See you again next year.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — My True Detective Theory

HBO

A bare bones and largely spoiler-free recap of where we are in season three of True Detective: Some kids went missing, one was found dead in the woods with a bunch of creepy straw dolls nearby, the detectives are investigating and found that the dolls were purchased in bulk from this lady, Patty, who is a member of the family’s church congregation. There’s a lot more going on than that (multiple timelines, hallucinations, booby-trapped houses), but that’ll get you where I need you for this next part.

I don’t trust Patty. I have nothing to base this on — not a single scrap of real evidence — other than the fact that she makes those creepy straw dolls. Picture yourself walking into her house. She, being a dear old Southern woman with manners, offers you an iced tea. You drink it. You ask to use the bathroom. As you’re walking down the hallway, you notice another door is ajar and take a quick glimpse inside and it is filled with creepy straw dolls in various stages of completion, some of them wearing white dresses.

What do you do? Do you run? Do you call the police? Do you call the police while running? I think the last one is your best play. You can’t be too careful in situations like this. Who even knows what she has in the basement, you know?

I am almost assuredly off-base here. Most speculation has focused on unidentified men with scars and various wives and most of those theories have any number of screencaps to back them up. I have no screencaps. Well, just the one up there. But I do know that creepy straw dolls terrify me and Patty is way too cool about admitting she makes them. Maybe she’s not responsible for this murder. Fine. She has secrets, though. I’m sure of it.

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