Web Series Review: ‘Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show’

Posted on April 15, 2009



Web SeriesSummary: A wonderful chatfest that pays off your investment and involves you in the festivities.
Rating: 8/10

Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

A wonderful marriage of a great personality with a top notch format, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show is a grassroots Internet delight that brings its fans along for the ride. An interview show in the best possible sense: it’s actually a conversation between host and guest rather than a slickly produced call-and-response. It’s not rehearsed, not edited, not restrained… and all the better for it.

Feature-Length Review after the jump.

Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

For years, my favorite talk show on TV has been Charlie Rose. If, eventually, in my career I get some manner of coverage that allows me the opportunity to make the talk show circuit, I would be most giddy to appear on Rose’s show. It’s stripped down and presents an honest discussion with his guests. This is also something I enjoyed most about Tom Snyder’s shows. Both Rose and Snyder aren’t concerned (weren’t, in Snyder’s case, sadly) about presenting an entertaining show to their audiences. Their concern was in involving the audience in a lively, spirited, engrossing conversation – wherever that should take them – that is entertaining on its own. It’s a very unique distinction from their talk show brethren. Don’t get me wrong; I’m entertained highly by the antics of Letterman, Conan, Craig Ferguson and the like. But if I’m interested in what the guest actually has to say, I’d rather tune in to a program like Rose’s.

A program like Kevin Pollak’s.

I came across Pollak on Twitter a little while back, not too long after he’d started his account. A couple of weeks after I’d begun following him, he started tweeting about something called Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show and directed us to an incomplete website. He kept talking about getting guests from those celebs who frequent Twitter. I thought it was a big joke until Mr. Pollak posted videos from the first of the shows, an interview with LeVar Burton. This thing was real.

Cut from the same swath as Rose and Snyder’s shows, with a set similar to Rose’s, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show is an engaging indeterminate amount of time that begins at 8pm ET/5pm PT on Sunday nights. To date, he’s had 4 shows and each has been the height of entertainment. I say indeterminate amount of time because while most talk shows are rigidly stuck to the one hour format, Pollak’s show stretches on as long as the guests like. He has two guests per show and each show so far has lasted about 2 hours. You get a healthy amount of discussion with each guest.

What is intended to set the show apart from its television kin is that it is interactive with its audience. The show streams live at KevinPollaksChatShow.com and features an open chat room. During the show, Kevin will go to the chat room to ask his guests any questions from the audience. In addition, Kevin asks his audience to participate in crafting the production of the show. Two current promotions offer the fans a chance to develop the show’s theme music as well as a line Mr. Pollak can use to sign off the show. He’s offering a copy of one of his comedy CDs as booty but makes it clear how much he wants the audience to take ownership of the show. He also welcomes suggestions for the show through his Twitter account. It’s a shrewd model that helps build community in addition to viewership. Community is the name of the game with anything successful on the Internet today.

Pollak’s celebrity connections have yielded a number of terrific guests in the first four episodes: actor, director, producer LeVar Burton; actor Samm Levine; comedian Jim Gaffigan; actor Joe Mantegna; Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk; comedian Bobby Slayton; and comedian and pot connoisseur Doug Benson. To see each of these guests open up unfettered is a true delight and such a different experience than seeing their 7 minute canned routine on the network shows. As a result, the show is picking up a great slate of guests in coming weeks.

The show’s still a bit rough, which actually adds to its charm. There are sound glitches. People walk in front of various cameras at the wrong times. Displaying any video clips of a guest’s work occur on an on-set display rather than appear as part of the audience’s videostream. As I say, though, it adds to the overall effect that you are part of something rather than just witnessing a production.

I can’t give enough high praise to everyone over at KPCS. Mr. Pollak is a gracious host, utilizing his years of stand-up comedy experience to ingratiate himself to the audience and create an open environment for his guests. I’ve always enjoyed Kevin’s stand-up, impressions and presence in films. He’s a natural in the format and he is genuinely interested in speaking with his guests. Pollak’s surrounded himself with an excellent production crew who work with him so well it’s like riffing on stage.

If you get the chance, tune into the show on Sundays. The website also posts clips from previous shows, which can be found on Blip.tv and iTunes. You’re guaranteed an insightful, compelling, and often times, riotous evening.

(Please note, if you don’t care for foul language, you might want to watch the series with the sound off. *blink**blink*)

Posted in: Web Series