Talk shows are usually the province of TV and guys in swanky studios in New York or Burbank. There are a handful of them in Chicago, and one of them is about to celebrate its eighth year.
The Interview Show has been helmed by Mark Bazer since the beginning. When it started he was an editor at Tribune Media Services and wrote a column for Redeye. Bazer said this was great because “not many writers get to write what they want and have it published each week in a major city publication,” but also said it paid very little despite the clout it gave him.
Bazer started attending and later performing at the Hideout show “Funny Ha-ha,” hosted by John Green and Claire Zulkey. And around the same time, Bazer came across Dick Cavett. “He’s the greatest,” said Bazer, “[he was] the perfect mix of quick wit and curiosity about and generosity towards his guests.”
For their fifth anniversary, Bazer’s wife got a video message from Cavett himself talking about him. “I didn’t know about it until it happened mid-show. And I still can’t believe she pulled it off.”
The first show was a room full of friends and the first guests were John Green and Hannibal Buress. Buress had just been voted one of Time Out Chicago’s comics to watch. Buress appeared on the show a few more times and thankfully his appearances been preserved by Bazer.
Bazer starts off each show with a funny set, and he and his guests have a laid-back joke-filled show, but he doesn’t consider himself a comedian. “I grew up on Letterman and Johnny Carson… But they’re comedians. I write things that are funny, but I don’t come from that same background.”
Since those first few shows, The Interview Show has grown into a monthly event that has packed the Hideout, and has picked up sponsorship from Lagunitas Brewery. “The show is a huge part of my life,” said Bazer. “It’s only monthly, but there’s always something to do. It has also given me a personal creative project to believe in and make into something valuable. I’ll stop doing it at some point – though sometimes I have nightmares of hosting the show at my nursing home in the future.”
And his favorite moment? “I called Jon Langford to be a surprise musical guest one night, and a guest didn’t show up, so when I called his name, they said he wasn’t there. I knew Jon was backstage and I said ‘hold on everyone,’ and I went backstage and asked Jon if he wanted to come out and be my guest, and he did.
You can watch that moment here (and see the rest of the archives of the show on Mark’s youtube channel):
The Interview Show is the first Friday of every month at The Hideout, 1354 W.Wabansia. The next one is at 6:30 tonight (doors at 6pm) with guests Pat Quinn, former Governor of Illinois, pastry chef Mindy Segal, artist Hebru Brantley and blues musician Toronzo Cannon. Tickets are $10.