Each monologue runs approximately five minutes and is filled with jokes centered around the news, including the latest on coronavirus. Spade touches on everything from Flava Flav’s clock ever-present clock necklace becoming a real “burden” these days since time has seemingly ground to a halt, to Instgram travel influencers now being out of a “job.”
One joke from Thursday night’s monologue went like this: “Today is Glenn Close’s birthday, although for the next few months she has it to change her name to Glenn … at least six feet away.”
He assumed that one was a bomb, telling the camera, “that one kind of sank,” and hitting a sinking sound effect from an app he downloaded onto his phone.
But how could he really know?
Spade says it’s all trial and error. For now, he’s basically throwing jokes into the ether because one, he needs to do it to maintain a sense of normalcy, and two, Comedy Central execs gave him the green light to go on with some version of the show if he wants to.
“It’s hard to just up and stop on a dime,” Spade tells CNN from his home. “I think it’s smart to get out there and it’s also fun and challenging to think of a new way to do something.”
He says he decided to start the monologues because he can only eat “so much Top Ramen.” He’s sheltering in place, but doesn’t want his show to completely stop. So he got his every day assistant to hold his iPhone camera as he tried out different rooms in his house, settling on his office.
“She runs into her hazmat suit and she throws me my daily bologna sandwich and then runs out after,” he says of his camera woman. He likes the result on the iPhone, he adds, “since my Blackberry wasn’t working.”
Spade now has his staff writers emailing him jokes throughout the day, and he sorts through those while piecing together the monologue at his desk.
“They email me some [jokes] in the morning and then I go through and I check them off and then write notes on additional things,” Spade says. “I literally read it off piece of paper and just hope it sounds funny. I use a little soundboard app that I got two days ago and I push it. I sometimes don’t know which one I’m pushing.”
Without a live audience, Spade has zero immediate feedback, which he finds to be the most amusing part of this whole process.
“That’s the funniest part. That I don’t know,” he laughs. “So we’re just doing them in a vacuum. I tried them into my dust buster first because it’s the same feeling. So I just have to go by my gut and I try to give mostly monologue but also some commentary, whatever is on my mind, just because why not? And just because that’s more my style. But I try not to make it all gloom and doom and talk about safety, you know, like today I thought, ‘Oh, I’m sick of Instagram models clicking their heels around the globe. Like it’s time to take five.”
He says it’s working, though. He’s doubled his online audience already since starting the monologues this week, and next week he plans to invite guests like comedians Kevin Nealon and Nikki Glaser on via Skype or FaceTime.
“Or I’ll go back to ’98 for Google Hangout,” he jokes. “Whatever it takes. We’re just trying to get another face up there so I can bull**** cause that’s kind of what our show is anyway.”
After recording, Spade sends the video over to Comedy Central, and a producer there uploads it to YouTube, the “Lights Out” Facebook page, and Spade himself posts it to Instagram. Getting it uploaded is the hardest part, he says.
“My internet is slow because I guess everyone around me is using it,” adding he often has to break the videos into smaller clips so the process moves faster.
But still, he does what it takes, because he wants to give people a break from all the “doom and gloom.”
“I think there’s some sort of psychology about watching the news when it’s such doomsday, I feel like it’s not like a logically healthy thing. They just say, everyone’s dying, it’s coming up your street, you will die. So I just want to do something the polar opposite and just say, ‘Hey, I’ll play the f***ing violin on the Titanic.”
“It’s just trying to do a talk show,” he says. “And I think the more rough on the edge the funnier it is to me. So I don’t mind keeping in things that are wrong or whatever because it makes me laugh. And it’s just sort of the idea of sitting in with people in their house while they’re home. How many times can I watch ‘Robocop?'”