5 great late-night talk show appearances by Minnesotans (and one not so awesome)


Whether you’re a Daily Show junkie, a Fallon fanatic, or a card-carrying member of Team Coco, many people have a soft spot for late night-talk shows.

This week, the Phoenix Theater will play host to a brand-new, staged, late-night-style talk show experience, Late Nights Minneapolis with Joe Rapp. With four unique shows taking place over four nights, each evening includes a live house band, a charming co-host (John Gebretatose), and a stacked slate of local celebrity guests ranging from political figures like Mayor Betsy Hodges and State Rep. Peggy Flanagan, to local comedy and music standouts like Brandi Brown, Chris Knutson, and Kat Perkins.

Ian Fishman, head writer and producer for the shows, explains that Late Nights is an idea that has been in motion for many years.

“Joe, John, and I all secretly wanted to do a late night-style show for quite a few years; we just hadn't articulated it,” he says. “I've always loved the format for its ability to push all the live comedy buttons. There's standup, there's sketch, and while it's not improvised, it's on such a tight deadline that it's still got that anarchic 'anything could happen' feel.”

Assuming all goes according to plan, Fishman says the group is hoping to find a permanent home to host the show beginning this fall.

While the shows will be unlike any other in town, it got us thinking about famous moments in late-night talk show history featuring Minnesotans (or at least a loose tie-in). To prepare you for the unpredictability happening at the Phoenix this week, we pulled together some of our favorite Minnesota moments in late-night television.

Maria Bamford “accent-off” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

It’s no secret that Maria Bamford is a goddamn comedy treasure, and one of the funniest people to ever come out of our state. This past January, she did us proud during an appearance on the newly christened The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when she took on Late Show writer (and Long Lake-native) Ariel Dumas in a Minnesota “accent-off.” It was a battle of Duluth versus Long Lake, where the two women go line-for-line, quip-for-quip chatting about everything, including Calhoun Square, Mall of America, black ice, and meat raffles. It was a nice little wink to Bamford's hometown fans who weren’t just in on the joke, but were the joke — in a Minnesota Nice kind of way, of course.

Sigh. Jimmy Kimmel annihilates Walter Palmer 
By far the least awesome late-night highlight goes to Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who set off an animal-rights firestorm last year when he killed Cecil the Lion, who was was lured from a protected national park to a nearby farm for the nominal fee of $50,000. To say Palmer was vilified would be a gross understatement, as the backlash actually forced him into hiding for a short period. While the story was talked about on every major news outlet in the country, it was Jimmy Kimmel's emotionally charged take-down on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that truly captured the feelings many were experiencing. The good news is that Kimmel prompted viewers to donate to a wildlife research unit in order to help "show the world that not all Americans are like this jackhole." 

Marlon James charms Seth Meyers, admits to trespassing on Prince’s property
Around this time last year, local author Marlon James charmed a national audience on Late Night with Seth Meyers while promoting his latest book, A Brief History of Seven Killings. While the book was met with high praise, the real highlight of James’ interviews was hearing him talk about breaking into Paisley Park (Prince’s personal party domicile). SPOILER: It ends with police. (The video has been yanked by NBC, but you can read more here.)

Prince gets all Prince-y on Jay Leno

Speaking of the Purple One, he was a sure thing for this list, thanks to his 2001 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The segment starts with some weird inside joke about fixing Leno’s seat, continues with Prince talking about how he tried to bribe Lawrence Fishburne into spoiling the new Matrix movies, and ends with him taking a stand against the unfair nature of the music industry and its one-sided contracts.

Oh, and he’s wearing pajamas. Which is exactly what you would expect from a Prince appearance.

Chris Kluwe goes full-nerd

Chris Kluwe is something of a modern-day renaissance man. The longtime NFL punter has made a name for himself both on the field and off, serving as an example of how a pro athlete can use his notoriety to impact change through his gay rights advocacy. During his 2013 appearance on Conan, however, Kluwe was publicly outed as a monster nerd, giving an insane amount of detail about his guild in World of Warcraft. The best part? He admitted to using his "Hey, I'm an NFL player" card in order to gain access to his elusive guild. He might be retired from the league, but Kluwe will always be in the nerd Hall of Fame for this late-night gem. 

Mitch Hedberg = Minneapolis icon
There are a bunch of great Mitch Hedberg late-night appearances, but this 1999 drop-in on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (also a Minnesota native) is possibly the best one ever. In classic Hedberg fashion, he makes a handful of jokes that are completely lost on the audience before spending several minutes talking about life in Minnesota (THE SUNSHINE STATE!). Kilborn also plugs Hedberg's upcoming shows at Acme, which is both a fantastic hometown nod and a huge bummer for those of us who never had the chance to catch him live. 


Late Nights Minneapolis with Joe Rapp
7:30 p.m. April 12-15
Phoenix Theater
Click here for more details