The Goodnight Show with John Calhoun
To hear Sharon Litwin's interview with John Calhoun on WWNO-FM radio, click here.
You know that Peter Allen song, “Everything old is new again”? Well, that's certainly true of the latest New Orleans performing arts presentation, in which New Orleanians look at their favorite subject: New Orleanians.
The Goodnight Show with John Calhoun, emulating what its namesake producer/host and emcee says is the 50-year American tradition of late-night talk shows, is gaining increasing local audiences, drawn, as they are, to its fast-paced, entertaining 90-minute program featuring New Orleanians talking about -- you got it -- New Orleanians.
“The Goodnight Show with John Calhoun is definitely modeled on all those familiar late-night talk show formats like Johnny Carson and David Letterman,” Calhoun says. “But ours is unique, in that it features the talent and culture of New Orleans.”
Taking place monthly at Café Istanbul in the Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue, the fledgling six-month-old Goodnight Show with John Calhoun has morphed into a huge production. There’s a house band led by drummer Steve Walkup, actors Jon Mayhue and Kate Becker doing the skits, a head writer, stage manager and videographers, even an original theme song.
Actor/announcer Ben Ellis introduces John Calhoun, although he refrains from saying “Heeeeere’s Johnny.” Then Calhoun, all dressed up in a suit, with his hair slicked back, comes on stage, acknowledges the applause and sits down behind his borrowed-for-the-night desk. He jokes his way though an opening monologue before turning to introduce his guests seated on a similarly borrowed-for-the-night interview couch.
This is not satire. It’s very much the reflection of John Calhoun’s love for New Orleans.
“I really consider this city to be a magic place,” he says. “For me, this is an opportunity to introduce some New Orleans artists to a new audience.”
So guests might range from a representative of the late, lamented Hubig Pie Company to the creator of a new Mardi Gras Indian tribe for youth to the one-and-only Mr. Okra. There’s always an invited musician who not only performs, but also stays for an interview. And Calhoun is particularly proud of the show’s sponsor commercials, which are presented live on stage and are, he says, “hilarious.”
It will be a long time before The Goodnight Show with John Calhoun attains nightly status. It's not yet even a weekly occurrence. Too much work for this not-for-profit group. Right now, this New Orleans-looking-at-New Orleans event happens just once a month, with the next one taking place on Wednesday, February 27 at 8 p.m.
The seventh presentation of The Goodnight Show with John Calhoun will feature guests Karen Gadbois, co-founder of the investigative local news website The Lens, Ronald Lewis of the House of Dance and Feathers, Carl LeBlanc, banjo player with the Preservation Hall Band, and comedian Chris Champagne.
Tickets are $10 at the door at Café Istanbul, 2372 St.Claude Avenue, 504-975-0286, on performance night; or they can be purchased ahead of time at Satsuma Restaurant, 3218 Dauphine Street in the Bywater (that’s John Calhoun’s daytime gig).
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.