Friday nights, just after midnight, actor Matt "Lucky" Yates hosts a talk show from the intimate Top Shelf space of Dad's Garage Theatre. Given the usual level of irreverence at the Inman Park playhouse, you might expect an in-house talk show to be some kind of goof.
But rather than offer a deconstruction like "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" or silly stunts a la Tom Green, "The Lucky Yates Talk Show" is surprisingly sincere. Despite the beer for sale, the after-midnight atmosphere is cheerful but not rowdy, and though there's no shortage of jokes, the conversation proves honest and open. Since its "pilot" last fall, guests have included plenty of local actors and directors, but also musicians, male prostitutes, magicians, dancers and talents from out of town.
In time-honored talk show tradition, Yates banters with sidekick Christian Danley and members of the band, the Valets. Between guests, the Valets' crunchy musical interludes provide the equivalent of "commercial breaks."
"We try to make it as much like a TV show as possible," says Yates over lunch. "I would love to have clip technology, to be able to say, 'Did you bring a clip? Would you like to set it up?' People have approached us about trying to actually move it onto television, but we're not so into that. We love the fact that it's just like live TV, but if we actually did it on TV, what's the point? There's enough talk shows on TV already."
He explains that the show that bears his name was a side effect of the playhouse's production of O Happy Day last fall. "I did a pre-show puppet show, but during the performance of the play I had to kill time until doing the improv show later. So I threw together a set from furniture lying around the Top Shelf space, then I'd ask passers-by, 'Want to be on my talk show?' At first we'd do it to an audience of two, but it caught on."
Tim Cordier, producer of "The Lucky Yates Talk Show," says that the live but untelevised talk show suited his ambitions for the playhouse's adjunct Top Shelf space. "I was named coordinator for Top Shelf and very much wanted to establish the space," says Cordier, "but it was Matt's dedication to do the show in front of whoever happened to be backstage that got it going."
The guests on Feb. 2 were poet/playwright Karen Wurl followed by erotic photographer Victor, accompanied by his kinky-garbed talent agent Angela Lieben of Shameless Productions. "Would you like to polish my breast-plate?" Lieben asked Yates, who agreed while mugging to the audience.
But Yates is quick to point out that such ribald moments aren't what define his show. "We don't want to give the impression that it's a dirty little talk show. It's legitimate. I might want to have strippers as guests, but not in a Howard Stern way, to get them to take their clothes off. I want to ask them about their lives. 'Do you hate men now?' That sort of thing."
Yates and Cordier both would like their guest list to expand to include people from more walks of life, including chefs, novelists, business leaders and politicians, with their ambition to book all of Atlanta's mayoral candidates. "My ultimate guest would be Jimmy Carter -- and we know he drinks beer!" says Yates.
The Feb. 2 show broke up with Yates thanking his guests and the band playing its last song around 1:30 a.m. With its affectionate treatment of a format we've all grown up with, "The Lucky Yates Talk Show" proves a low-key, low-budget but likable entertainment. It might start a bit late for the early-to-bed crowd, but if your evening is winding down -- or just getting started -- "Lucky" makes a tasty nightcap.
The Lucky Yates Talk Show plays at the Top Shelf space of Dad's Garage Theatre Company, 280 Elizabeth St., with performances at midnight Fridays. $0-5 based on a roll of the die. Call 404-523-3141.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
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