Grand Rapids finally has its very own live, late-night talk show.
Tonight Tonight premiered at The Holiday Bar, back in August 2016, created by local comedians Andy Bledsoe and Stu McCallister.
“Stu was running an open-mic at The Holiday Bar and was open to trying different kinds of shows,” Bledsoe said. “He did game shows and a couple of other different types of shows, not just regular stand-up. I had a crazy idea that I’d like to do a late night talk show, so I asked him and he was completely open to it.”
Bledsoe, 35, has done stand-up for about four years. Although he’s a lifelong fan of David Letterman, he hadn’t always pictured himself behind a desk, making audiences laugh.
“His sarcasm killed me every time,” Bledsoe said of the late night legend. “He’d set someone up and knock them down with a great sarcastic question. There are a lot of influences in the show I get from Letterman.”
In 1995, Grand Rapids was jokingly named as the new “home office” of Letterman’s show in one of his Top 10 lists. As such, it was only fitting that one of Tonight Tonight’s first bits be a Top 11 List, namely of rejected Founders beer names.
“I’d have to say that I’m kind of a blend of Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon,” Bledsoe said of his hosting humor. “I’m not quite as bubbly as Jimmy Fallon, but I’m not quite as dry as Jimmy Kimmel.”
Bledsoe and McCallister worked on writing the show with fellow comedians Jeremy Clymer and Matt Harper, who co-hosts with Bledsoe. Together, the team first brought Tonight Tonight to the Holiday Bar stage in August with featured guests Drew McCarthy from ESPN radio 96.1 and local comedian Dave Dyer.
“It’s no discredit to them to say that they were the only ones that we could get, but they were fantastic,” Bledsoe said. “The first show was kind of a testing of the water and getting our feet under us.”
With that first successful night under their belts, they returned in October with Eric Zane from 107.3 WBBL and McCallister as guests, along with a stand-up set from local comedian Ricarlo Winston.
However, the show really made its mark in December when Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss was a guest for the third show, with comedians Adam Degi and Gerrit Elzinga.
“Crowd-wise, it was our biggest show so far,” Bledsoe said. “It was nice to not only have the hard work pay off, but to have people actually see it.”
The hard work is continuing to pay off, as Tonight Tonight has been selected as one of the official community showcase shows for this month’s LaughFest. As of press time, Bledsoe and company hadn’t finalized the special guests for their LaughFest show, but they have high hopes of possibly getting some surprising names in their seats.
For now, he wants the show to just continue to grow the way it has every month at The Holiday Bar and hopefully return as a featured paid show at next year’s LaughFest.
“I have several guests that I’d like to get,” Bledsoe said of his future plans for Tonight Tonight. “One thing we’d like to do at some point is have what I’d call a bigger show, where maybe we rent out Wealthy Theatre or some other larger venue and try to get some sort of a fundraiser together.”
LaughFest: Tonight Tonight with Andy Bledsoe
The Holiday Bar, 801 5th St. NW, Grand Rapids
March 13, 8 p.m., FREE
laughfestgr.org, (616) 456-9058