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The Rowland Ebright Twilight Zone Fake Talk Show

Episode One

Intro: chair-swapping [1]
Miss Rowdy and Miss Dizzbrain discuss high school [2]
The Arm discusses US foreign policy [3]
The roving reporter wanders across Alma [4]
CPB [5]
Larry Brown encore performance [6]
Miss X, Y & Z discuss movies, cereal, twist-ties and lots of nothing [7]
The lost man asks for directions to the lobby [8]
End credits with blooper reel [9]

Miss Dizzbrain (Jani Sheets) had her mother tape this episode, but I doubt it still exists. However, my aunt also taped the first (rather botched) broadcast of this, which I now possess.

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To introduce the first episode, I'd written a speech that quite blandly explained my intentions for the program. I stated that it was a parody of normal talk shows, and was inspired by such sources as "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night With David Letterman" and "The Dick Cavett Show." However, to make the speech more interesting, I recorded the majority of it in the center chair of the three chairs on the set, but then recorded certain words or phrases in either of the other two chairs, and edited them together so that I would jump between them from time to time throughout the speech.

To discuss the negative effects of high-school, I brought on two friends playing the characters "Miss Rowdy" who was supposed to act rude to me, and "Miss Dizzbrain" who was supposed to act stupid. Jani did a great blonde act, twirling her gum, looking off into space and giving responses like "What's school?" Carrie didn't have much of a mean streak, so she was less successful. The best part was an outtake where I say "Be rowdy, that's the point," and she sneers at me "What do you want me to do, juggle?!"

Yes, I actually interviewed my own left arm. We discussed, of all things, U.S. foreign policy. I put up a disclaimer stating that "The opinions of this arm do not reflect those of anyone in the known universe" on the screen a couple times while it was "talking" (i.e. we filmed just my arm as I moved my hand like a puppet). In between each commentary, I edited in me giving a blatantly unrelated reaction shot, stating in a generic tone: "That's very interesting," "You don't say, how interesting," or "Wow, that's interesting."

During the first airing, Chris (a studio employee) and myself sat by the phone just waiting for the angry comments we thought we'd get from viewers, but none came. I think we made the mistake of assuming someone was watching. Some of the arm's comments: "We should beef up the border patrol, and the second someone steps across, just blow them away." - "We should stick all Toyotas and Hondas back in their crates, ship them back to Japan, and let them eat them for lunch." For you to appreciate the humor, you must realize how much of an anti-Conservative I am.



"Because probably nobody saw it, and we really weren't asked to do an encore performance of it, we're going to do an encore performance of the Larry Brown interview that was in our "Sneak Preview" episode that probably absolutely no one saw. So here you go:"

Most of the stuff for this entire show was thought up and ad-libbed on the spot. I proved that I can improv, and coax a decent amount of improv out of most people, especially when we're able to simply edit out all the dead-time when we stopped to think of things to say. But this early interview is strong proof of how this approach can go horribly, boringly wrong. The only funny part is the off-camera, whispered "Fruity Pebbles" but to appreciate it, you'd have to sit through the rest of it, which I wouldn't wish on anyone.

For the finale of the first show, I show off the now-completed and fully-lit set, which had been done not for me, but another citizen who would also begin doing a REAL talk show the following week. This set was used in every subsequent episode. I discuss people I plan to have on in the future, including Rob Putnam, whom I'd stopped to talk to while in his neighborhood shooting the "Roving Reporter" segment (he never appeared), and The Nobbs, one of whom I'd just talked to about it the day before (they appeared in the next episode).

During this speech, I was interrupted by a gentlemen walking on set and asking for directions to the visitor's lobby. The public-access studio was actually in an unused portion of the basement of a hospital. I very politely tried giving him directions, but he kept deliberately interrupting and misunderstanding, making it a long and difficult process, which would have been much funnier if we'd have thought to mic him.

The man was actually a studio employee, and the whole thing was the first of our "Walk-On" jokes. My brother had dreamt up the idea of having someone simply walk onto the set and disrupt whatever was going on at the time. This bit was pretty straight-forward, but most of our ideas were much more surreal, like a kid flying a kite (indoors), which was never used. Later examples are Mr. Obnoxious (in episodes 3, 6 and 7) and the Beach Closed gag (in episodes 4 and 8).

After this, I explained I always like to help out where I can, finished my speech, and gave what became my usual final sign-off:

"This has been the Rowland Ebright, Twilight Zone, Fake Talk Show, where we don't mess around with interesting topics, we don't wear plaid ties, and we don't drink Camel-Head Beer. Goodnight!"

The very first broadcast was supposed to be at 4pm, and I was supposed to be let into the studio at 10am to finishing the final editing on the sign-off and blooper reel. But Chris was late. Real late: he got there at 3pm. I was actually editing while the first part of the show was on the air, so during that first broadcast (which I have a copy of thanks to my aunt) you actually see the show stop, dead-air, the tape rewinding, and then the finale. I ended up making such a huge blooper reel, we went over ten minutes. In later airings, I compressed fifteen minutes of outtakes down to five.

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