Congratulations go out to Boston's sketch/improv troupe Improv Asylum, who formally announced this week that they'd earned a weekly half-hour time-slot on the Boston ABC affiliate, WCVB-TV (Ch. 5).
Improv Asylum's Vanity Project will debut Saturday nights at midnight starting July 2. The troupe also has a deal with boston.com, the Boston Globe's online home, to roll out a "First Look" version of the show on Thursdays.
It won't be Boston's version of SNL, exactly. More like the best sketches and moments from the troupe, put to video. Which they're already doing on a regular basis as part of their live shows and on their YouTube Channel. For example, their "Oscar-winning Boston Movie."
Says the Improv Asylum's Chet Harding: "We are thrilled to bring our fans more of our brand of comedy, and reach out to a huge market that may not have yet seen us at our theater. With viral hits like Oscar-Winning Boston Movie, Brady 9-1-1, Marathon Thoughts and The College Town, we know there is a demand for our material outside the walls of our theater."
The troupe's co-owner Norm Laviolette's adds that they're "excited to be doing something in this market that has never been done before. And being Bostonians, we have the attitude that we don't need permission from New York or LA. We prefer to just do it ourselves."
Should this prove successful, it'll be interesting to see if comedy groups in other cities and work out similar late-night TV options for themselves, too.
Back in the pre-WWW days, Seattle's Almost Live! (which featured a young Joel McHale and also spawned Bill Nye the Science Guy) was able to get not only a local deal with its NBC affiliate, but also got picked up by Comedy Central for a period during the 1990s. The Groundlings had a national flirtation with FX in 1998. And going back even further, Boston TV also gave Lenny Clarke a shot at his own local late-night comedy show in 1980 (with pals that included Denis Leary and Steven Wright).
*And, of course, obviously, there was SCTV.