The first time I heard about Steve Hofstetter, he was promoting a cure for The Cable Guy? Was it Prilosec? Was it Netflix? Who knows now.
The second time I heard from Hofstetter, he was in the comedy club owning business, bringing “The Laughing ___” franchise up from Atlanta to Long Island City.
Now he’s hit the big-time, if not primetime, as the host and executive producer of his own late-night Saturday series on FOX, earning a 13-week summer tryout for Laughs. Premiering Aug. 2 on FOX and MyNetwork stations in 10 markets, Laughs will film intros and interstitial segments with Hofstetter in Louisville from the club he co-owns there, The Laughing Derby at Comedy Caravan. That club changed hands and names in January.
It’s FOX’s latest possible answer to Saturday Night Live. following MADtv, Talkshow with Spike Feresten, The Wanda Sykes Show, an In Living Color reboot that never launched, and the short-lived FOX ADHD (the animated bloc is coming back in primetime for summer 2015, while the live-action pilots shot a couple of years ago also, like In Living Color, never made it to air).
Laughs at least gets a trial run, with its first two months of competition softened by SNL reruns.
What will Laughs be? It’ll be a half-hour all about stand-up comedy, but not the kind you see recycled in late-night on Comics Unleashed. Rather, Hofstetter will introduce clips provided by stand-up comedians and segments such as funny Tweets of the week.
“No panel,” Hofstetter told The Comic’s Comic. “The show is kind of a “this week in stand-up” so we just show clips from around the country and talk about what comic is playing where.”
So…What are you telling comedians as far as what kinds of clips to submit, length of the clip, and so forth?
“We will air 1-3 minutes,” Hofstetter told me. “It’s smart for a comedian to slice out the time they want us to use so we dont see something we don’t like and pass on it too early. Saying “Skip to minute 3!” is a waste — just cut the garbage off it. FCC friendly, and we prefer dark and edgy (just because that’s the taste of the show). We love clever — and uniformly reject cliche and hackery. That said, the show will have a broad audience — and we want the voices of the comics to be a good cross-section of what’s out there. Some road dogs, some alt acts, some in between. We’ll be the broadcast debut for some of the acts, and just another place to see some more. Most of all, we are a highlight reel — all home runs.”
He’s aiming to showcase eight to 10 clips each week.
Would you believe Laughs was FOX’s idea?
“Actually, I never pitched this. They came to me with the idea. They wanted a show where one guy was basically in charge from soup to nuts, and I (thankfully) became that guy. I’ve had lots of say in the current iteration — but the original idea belongs to Jack Abernethy,” Hofstetter said.
Jack Abernethy is CEO of Fox Television Stations.
“I was at Dish Nation last summer, which is part of what led to this, as they saw my ability as a producer (in addition to how they knew me as a comedian),” Hofstetter said.
Here is what else he told viewers via YouTube:
Look for Laughs on weekend nights in August, September and October, at the following times, channels and TV markets:
|New York City||Saturday||midnight||Fox|
|New York City||Sunday||11pm||MyNetwork|