Sacramento this week gets its own TV-style talk show.
B Street Theatre actor Dave Pierini has put together a late-night talk show-formatted evening, which “airs” live this week at the theater’s Mainstage.
Pierini isn’t re-inventing the wheel when it comes to the familiar format. In fact, he plans on “stealing the wheel” for his show, “Sactown Tonight!”
“We’ll have a band; I’ll come out and talk for a little bit, tell some jokes. I have Rick Kleber (another B Street acting company member) over in the corner as my announcer and foil. I’ll have a desk, and I’ll have a couch,” Pierini said.
Pierini’s show previews tonight and opens Wednesday. Confirmed guests include comedian Jack Gallagher, author and advice columnist Joey Garcia, radio personality Phil Cowan, television personality Edie Lambert, musicians Autumn Sky and Ricky Berger, and in a nod to the late Johnny Carson, animals from the Sacramento Zoo. All of it with a Sacramento focus.
Pierini long has been a core member of B Street’s acting company and an artistic associate of the theater. He also writes plays for the Family Series, directs on the main stage and leads the improv sketch comedy troupe. He’s been trying to add talk-show host to his résumé for the past year, and timing finally worked out with enough of a break between productions at the busy theater company that Pierini could squeeze in his show.
“Ideally what I’d love is to just make this a plug-in every Sunday night,” Pierini said. “Do it once a week out of the B2 space and devote a little bit of time during the week to getting guests and writing material. It can just be a standing thing.”
For that to happen, though, Pierini first needs to know if he and B Street can pull it off to their own satisfaction and then if people will want to see it. This week will be a test run for both.
“I have no idea if this is something people are even interested in,” Pierini said. “I just know I am as comfortable with talking to a large group of people as Dave Pierini as I am as some character. Some actors aren’t, but I love it,” he said.
There have been other Sacramento-based live variety talk shows over the years, particularly the long-running Moe Betterman show at Old Ironsides and a shorter-lived show hosted by the erudite musician Eric Bianchi.
Pierini, who has studied the form watching the late-night kings from Carson to David Letterman and now Jimmy Fallon, considers Letterman, who recently announced his retirement, as the champ. But he thinks personality-wise he’s closer to Fallon.
“They all have their own personas. It would be foolish of me to go out there and try to do a David Letterman-type show,” Pierini said. “It’s just a matter of making sure I’m true to who I am and let the show develop around that.”
He said there will be some prepared comedy bits using the B Street sketch actors such as Amy Kelly, Jason Kuykendall, and Tara Sissom, but he wants the show to be as topical and current as possible. He’ll be booking and scheduling the show’s guests himself while also writing jokes and other comic bits. There will be different shows all week.
Pierini knows he has a built-in audience of B Street subscribers who supported the sketch comedy troupe when they ventured downtown to Assembly, but he’d like to reach more people with this project.
“Eventually I’d like to have it broadcast, definitely on the Internet at the very least, and then the sky’s really the limit. We’ll talk about that future, if we think it has legs. Right now we just want to put it out there,” Pierini said.
“The more we do it, the more our spin on this tried-and-true formula will emerge, but in the meantime, I don’t think anybody who does one of these types of shows says ‘I’m gonna do something new.’ This thing works. It’s a fun entertainment.”
Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.