Reminiscent of the opening sequence for “The Johnny Carson Show, ” something new begins as a suited Mark Bazer steps onto the stage at the Hideout for the first time. Taking a seat at his desk, he adjusts his microphone, takes a sip from a mug, and addresses his new audience. “Welcome to ‘The Interview Show,’” he says. “I believe I’m the only talk show host who is not afraid to show his legs under the desk.”
An audience member whispers to a friend, “I think this is a comedy.”
First guest, comedian Hannibal Burress, is loaded with Chicago-infused material as he nails a routine. Following is award-winning author, John Green, who effectively jokes to the interviewing Bazer about his woes with Hollywood machos. And a short mockumentary covering the recent presidential campaign in Iowa sustains crowd interest. As the show continues to impress, it is apparent that it’s not really a spoof. By the final interview, a real talk show is in the works. Julie Smolyansky, the president of Lifeway Foods—creators of the popular drink “Kefir”—accepted an invitation to “The Interview Show,” for the most sensible of reasons.
“We wanted to expand our market,” Smolyansky says. “We have never presented to an audience that way before. It was a good opportunity.”
“Many Chicagoans would like to know about people doing interesting things, whether they perform or something else,” Bazer says. “Those people never get interviewed. I want to put them on my show.” (Anthony Regan)