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Stay Up Late Show moves to prime time
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Stay Up Late Show moves to prime time

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Stay Up Late Show
September 12
ACT Theatre


Rebecca "Mmmmm" Davis is used to being a talk-show host. In fact, this Lesbian icon has been holding to the talk-show format in a late-night offering called the Stay Up Late Show, which has been produced once a month, nearly continuously (they learned that December was a cruddy month to do a show) for the last six years.

The "Mmmmm" in her name actually stands for "Michelle," and she uses it for many reasons: there's more than one Rebecca Davis around at AFTRA (television union): one does voiceovers in Canada, another uses it as her porn name. So "Mmmmm" differentiates her, but also honors her father who died in the early '90s. He picked the name Michelle and was always supportive of her career. "It's also a fun way to get the audience's attention," she adds.

Davis started her road to talk-show stardom by working with Alice B. Theatre's holiday show. For those too young to know, Alice B. was Seattle's "Gay and Lesbian theater for all people" from 1985 to 1997. They produced an annual "Holiday Survival Game Show" to give GLBT folks an alternative place to be with other GLBT folks. "I did it for two years," Davis details. "The first half was sketches, or a play, with original music by Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt. The second half was a game show. I had to lead a game with three audience contestants, games like 'The Price is Right' and 'Wheel of Karaoke.'" She learned techniques for interacting with audiences and contestants, learned how not to insult them, and make sure everyone was having a good time.

Davis got other hosting gigs in the GLBT community, including the "Queen City Cruise," which she describes as a "big floating boat of Gay." It was the Tacky Tourists' unofficial contribution to Seattle's Seafair festivities which raised lots of money for various Gay community organizations, including SEAMEC.

With Mark "Mom" Finley, Davis co-hosted various activities on board the cruise, including the drag queen and costume contests. Davis reports, "If you can handle a crowd of mostly Gay men who are mostly inebriated, you can do anything." With Andrew Tasakos, she co-hosted the "Things That Go Bump in the Night" Halloween fundraiser for the GLBT community (now known as "The Bump").

Basil Harris of Awesome told her, "I have been wanting to do a show called the Stay Up Late Show." Davis has been the first and only host. Now, SULS is moving to prime time. Davis says, "Eight o'clock! Get a sitter! You can totally stay out late." ACT Theatre is working with SULS to expand their audience and get ready for even bigger things. Davis is excited about the expansion of the producing team. "We've got an awesome group of folks. Sometimes there has been just me and a producer, now we have a tech director [and] creative person. It's very gratifying."

Kim Nyhous, a new producer on the show, has experience doing television and has encouraged sharp timing and rehearsed skits, where some of the past shows have been a little like a drunken talk-show. But her plans are to get the show to the level that it can be taped for local television stations. She'd like to create as much viewer loyalty as Almost Live had, back in the day. Nyhous explains, "Talk shows have never gone out of vogue in popular culture. Stay Up Late has interviews, information, and a funny woman. There's always going to be a lot of programming on-air, but we think there is a market for this.

"For television, we're developing more bits, more guests, a tighter show. More skits and sketch comedy. Recently, we had a topical bit about an attack by Somali pirates, but they were Irish, instead."

Nyhous describes the move to ACT and an 8:00 p.m. slot. "It has a marquee name. People may not know SULS, but they know ACT. We want to attract people not as familiar with the show. September and October shows are testing the waters to see how it works and what the audience likes. Our aim is to become part of [ACT's new] Central Heating Lab."

To that end, the producing team and associates have dug into their own pockets to make the move. "It's a way bigger financial commitment. We want to take it to the next level. We're putting our money and time and energy behind this. It's also great to work with professional staff at ACT. It raises the stakes," explains Nyhous.

Veterans of the Brown Derby staged readings at ReBar, Nyhous and Davis are out and proud. The pair presents blue humor with a GLBT twist. Nyhous and her partner of 9 and a-half years moved back here from San Diego a couple of years ago, and she began freelance producing for Seattle Channel, KUOW/KXOT, and independent media.

Nyhous gives a taste of what people can expect in the September 12 edition. The Crypt introduces a Back-To-School Fashion Show, featuring Mr. and Ms. Washington State Leather. Josh Feit, longtime writer in Seattle, now editor of an online news magazine called Publicola.net, will be interviewed. Information can be found on the website at www.stayuplateshow.com. They will focus on local politics and analysis in the future. You might think of them as a local Daily Show wannabe, and then see what happens.

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