It shouldn’t be hard to believe that Lights Out with David Spade is quality.
Maybe the slight disbelief could be that Comedy Central has finally found a lasting partner to fill the thirty-minute time slot after nightly staple The Daily Show after trying and failing with talents like Larry Wilmore and Jordan Klepper. Entering its fifth month on the network, Lights Out at first glance passes as standard late-night fare: there’s a (male) host, a monologue, and some guests. But there are also slight twists: yes, Spade does a quick set of jokes to begin, but in an unusual fashion, his guests are already seated nearby and heckle him throughout. At times it seems as if Spade concocts purposefully bad jokes in order to get his fellow comedians to chime in from a few feet away. And chime in, they do, to hilarious effect. Watching him bomb with a one liner is as entertaining as it is for any other late night host to nail one perfectly.
Another point of differentiation is that Spade’s Rolodex apparently is flush with a plethora of hilarious friends. Rather than glamorous Hollywood movie stars attempting to shill for their latest movie per their contracts and therefore recounting less-than-spontaneous stories about all sort of shit, Spade’s three guests are known for their comedic chops and employ them to riff on the latest in celebrity news. A recent episode brought me pure joy as Spade reminisces with SNL pals Norm MacDonald, Kevin Nealon, and Dennis Miller –it was such a genuine treat to see those four giants together on a stage just kicking a can of shit down the road! Spade’s guests have included some of the best in comedy, like Whitney Cummings, Jim Gaffigan, Adam Sandler, Neal Brennan, Nikki Glaser, and Pete Holmes to name a few. Keeping responses unscripted also allows Lights Out steer out of the heavily sketch persona that has enveloped the likes of Jimmy Fallon, another SNL alum, and his version of the stale Tonight Show.
What’s more is that all of the guests seem to be in on how ridiculous this all is. The idea of celebrity is the brunt of most jokes, and little is more deserving. Spade certainly knows it. He ventures to the stage for many episodes with a red Solo cup full of Lord knows what. His sense of humor, too, works not only outwardly but inwardly. Nearly every episode finds Spade deriding himself, often about his own attire, looks, or height. The show itself even announces in its ads that viewers should DVR Lights Out, as if to say they know there are more important things in the world.
Perhaps most invigorating, Spade and company keeps it apolitical. Only the recent announcement from Cardi B debating a run for public office skirted near politics for a few chuckles. While we all need to know what a disaster that the world is, it sure is nice to take a break from it all.
Lights Out with David Spade has a frivolous yet comforting feel to it, like a green room a comedy club could engender were we privy to such private conversations. And, yeah, it’s good enough to DVR.