It’s a Whole New Ball Game Now
You Be the Newsman, I’ll Be Liz Taylor
You Know, She Has a Nobel Peace Prize
I Had a Paper Route Too
It’s Just Landmine Hopscotch
I’ve always been a fan of talk shows but disliked the restricted time spent with interesting guests. Whether it be Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton or Jimmy Kimmel, Oprah and Ellen, this talk show format has stood the test of time and continues to attract big audiences. So of course Netflix jump in to grab a slice of the pie. With each episode clocking in at around an hour and with the comedic charisma of David Letterman at the helm, My Next Guest is an interesting and deeper look into the lives of well-known famous people.
From Barack Obama and Jay-Z through to Howard Stern and the ever-inspirational Malala Yousafzai, David interviews each of these people, exploring their past and journey to becoming the enigmatic figureheads they are now. There’s a good blend of humour mixed in too through the use of cut-away sketches that see the camera crew following David and the interviewee. Some of these are quite interesting, including a look at George Clooney’s family life, but other times they don ‘t quite hit the right mark, such as visiting Oxford with Malala.
For me though the hour format works much better here, giving both David and his guests enough time to settle into their groove without it feeling stifled, over-long or rushed. Some of the topics discussed are really interesting too although personally I found the former President Barack Obama’s story the most interesting with Jay-Z’s Brooklyn upbringing a close second.
If there’s one blemish on the season it comes from the interview with Malala. David feels uncomfortable at times and some of the jokes really do fail to hit their mark. The result is an interview that doesn’t quite hit the right peakss, and a comedic sketch that comes across as more cringe-inducing than it should. Being from Britain, the goofy slapstick clashes against the traditional British sarcasm and some of the students on campus evidently feel out of sync with him.
Still, it’s a minor point in an otherwise interesting and thoroughly enjoyable format. I have to admit, I put the first episode on as background noise while playing the Playstation but quickly found myself switching the console off and dedicating my time to watching this wholly instead. There’s a good mixture of archival footage, stock photos and minimal audience cutaways to make the show as visually interesting as it is audibly, and this is clear to see throughout the series.
David Letterman’s humour won’t be for everyone but the longer interview format and interesting characters he interviews should be enough to look past this. The hour-long run time is far better suited and David is certainly in his element with this longer-form of interview. With a second season already greenlit, it’ll be interesting to see whose showcased next but there’s enough here to make for a really enjoyable watch nonetheless.