A revered cornerstone of American entertainment, Austin is long overdue to give The Late-Night Talk Show its own spin. Traditional talk shows have blended class, comedy and music since the dawn of television, and now, TNM Tonight seeks to bring its own brand of entertainment by filming in front of a live audience at the New Movement Theater and posting its episodes later on YouTube.
Hosted Devon Tincknell of Smut City and the Worst Tattoo in Austin Contest, TNM Tonight employs a fairly standard format featuring a musical guest, a stand-up comedian and an interview with a celebrity.
Tincknell took the time to sit down on the other side of the interview table and chat with CultureMap about the history and style of the show, as well as preview the next episode's lineup of comedian Katie Pengra, band Kay Leotard and "Attorney Who Rocks" David Komie.
CultureMap: How did this show get off the ground?
Devon Tincknell: It has been going on since November — our first pilot episode. It was still a regular episode, we just called it a pilot in case it went horribly awry. We could sort of say, “Oh, just testing. Now we’re on track.” That’s what pilots are for, because there’s so many moving parts to the show, we just had no idea if we were actually going to pull this off.
CM: So how did the idea of a late-night style talk show come about in the first place?
DT: The truth is that I was running a personal blog for a number of years and I decided that I hated blogging. I decided that I didn’t like doing something where you’re just throwing things into the abyss and hoping somebody out there reads them. Maybe you get a spam comment and that’s pretty much the interaction you get.
I wanted to try something else that is more — there’s more feedback. You know, there’s more like there’s a sense of accomplishment, so you can finish something that’s more collaborative. It’s not just me working on it.
And then in the beginning of the fall of 2012, Chris Trew, who is the co-founder and co-owner of the New Movement Theater, asked me to put together a show. He just said, “Put together something.” So I thought about it, and I thought about what could incorporate all of these elements I want, where we have a finished product that could live on, and I get to work with other people, and it brings in a variety of crowds. I didn’t want to just harass my own social circle on Facebook over and over.
So we came up with this idea… The idea came from that of looking at those little parts and how they fit together. And then I realized, “You know, with a late night talk show we’d get to have different comedians, different bands, and guests. They would all get to bring their friends. I’d get to work with a writers’ room. That’d be kind of cool. I like hosting stuff. I like that immediacy of making a joke and having laughter, instead of writing a joke, putting it out on the Internet, and four months later someone says ‘Oh, I read your blog!’”
CM: But you wouldn’t say that the show is centered on you, like traditional talk shows, correct? The focus is more on the guests you gather from the local Austin scene.
DT: Yeah, it’s this weird thing where I’m the focus of the show because I’m the host of the show, one of the head writers, one of the producers, but I’m just there to facilitate everything else. The funniest part of the show is probably when the comedian is up there. The most interesting part is when the guest is talking.
It’s cool, because it’s fun and my show and I’m really proud of it, but at the same time it’s not called “TNM Tonight with Devon Tincknell.” It’s much more a spotlight on the community than it is a chance for me to strut around and get pats on the back.
CM: What are some of the folks that you’ve previously had on the show?
DT: Every episode we have a comedian. So we have had Duncan Carson, who was our first, Kath Barbadoro, and we have had Ramin Nazer, who is the current “Funniest Person in Austin,” but is yet to be dethroned once the current contest finishes.
And then for guests, we have had two filmmakers, Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews, who did the film Zero Charisma, which just came out at SXSW. And then we had Chris Trew on for a special thing, because it was the anniversary of the theater. We did an interview with Johnny Mars last time, who is a local filmmaker.
CM: And who do you have on tap for the next episode?
DT: In this episode, we have Davie Komie, which is really exciting. And I’m really excited about that because I think everyone’s seen the billboards and just has this idea based on that. I mean he’s a real lawyer. He’s not an ambulance chaser. He’s a professional lawyer. … And this was kind of a fun campaign that he came up with. I think it’ll be interesting to sort of “get behind the billboard.”
CM: I guess it’s not just local celebrities that you want to get on the show, but people that you think will be fun and entertaining.
DT: Local celebrities are what we’re going for. As someone who has a background in journalism, I’ve done enough Q&A’s with bands to know that it’s better to have a band that’s fun to talk to than the band that everyone wants to hear from.
So we try to do a little bit of a vetting process to make sure that, when we have a guest, we’re going to get someone who is awesome, has good stories, and is fun to talk to. … I want to have someone who is going to tell some awesome stories and be engaging.
Tickets are still available to purchase for the live recording of TNM Tonight this Saturday, May 4 with special guests David Komie, comedian Katie Pengra, and band Kay Leotard. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show begins promptly at 9 p.m. If you can’t make it in, be sure to catch TNM Tonight and all previous episodes and clips on its YouTube channel.