(AllHipHop Features) Wyatt Cenac is bringing his long-running weekly live stand-up show Night Train to the digital space. The Emmy and WGA Award winner’s Brooklyn showcase has joined the lineup of NBC Universal’s new comedy subscription streaming service Seeso.
As the host and executive producer of Night Train, Cenac assists in presenting the various performers tapped for the series. Viewers can catch appearances by Zamata, Janeane Garofalo, Jon Benjamin, Questlove, Michelle Wolf, Aparna Nancherla, John Hodgman, and others.
Netflix users are also able to experience Cenac’s comedic take in the feature film version of his Grammy nominated special titled Brooklyn. The native New Yorker’s comedy album Furry Dumb Fighter was released earlier this year as well.
The first six episodes of Night Train are set to debut on June 30, so I spoke to Cenac about the series. The discussion eventually ventured into the entertainment industry’s shift toward online content and the bizarre stories of women that claim to have birthed hybrid babies by aliens.
Check out part 1 of my conversation with Wyatt Cenac below.
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From your perspective what separates Night Train from other stand-up comedy shows?
I feel like part of that is something that you would have to ask other comedians. I think for us, we tried to create a place where you can get a broad range of comedians, and the audience might not be as familiar with some of them as others.
There’s people like Hannibal Buress or Eugene Mirman, but then we also introduce new comedians. The audience is equally supportive of both new and established comedians.
We just try very hard to make the line-ups unique and a bit more diverse. The comedians you see are not just going to be five white dudes and a lady. We try to have different types of people and not try to do it as such a monolithic thing.
When I was growing up there were a lot of shows that were broken down where you had Latino night, the Black show, and the standard show that had one person that was not a white dude. I think we tried to create something that tries to bring people from all those worlds together. Because they’re all funny and should have the opportunity to perform in the same world together.
What was your thought process behind having the show air on Seeso?
Seeso approached us about doing it. With doing any kind of showcase series like this, I wanted to try to capture as much of what the real show is like. At the real show everybody gets to do 10-15 minute spots. That, to me, was kind of important.
Sometimes when you’re making an hour of television, you’re actually making about 43 minutes of television, because you have to accommodate commercials. So when you do a stand-up series for TV, a lot of times things have to get cut down. Or you’ll have to have the comics do 5 minute sets.
You can get a lot of funny in 5 minutes, but giving somebody 10 minutes to take the audience on a journey, there’s something nice about being able to do that. Seeso was willing to accommodate that.
You’ve had experience doing television programs, and now you’re doing an online streaming platform. If feels like that’s where the industry is headed with companies like Netflix and Hulu. Even in the music industry you have Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal. It seems like the entertainment business is shifting towards a more internet based presentation. What are your thoughts about that?
I think they are, but at the same time I don’t know if whatever the end result is will ultimately be that much more revolutionary than what we had. It started with television and three big networks. Then cable came in. The big three networks were still the best, but cable was able to carve out its own space.
As you see everything move to the digital space there’s still a certain amount of those conglomerates that are all-powerful. In a digital space, it would not surprise me if Disney consolidates all their power. They have ESPN, ABC, and the Disney and Marvel properties.
I feel like even as that stuff moves to the digital space, it just seems like it’s still a conglomeration thing that’s happening. Whatever the end result of digital properties are, there’s still going to be three main outlets where we’ll probably get most of our stuff.
It just feels like the cable and TV model is just finding a way to take over the digital model. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years the digital model just looks like what the TV and cable model looked like 10, 15 years ago.
Your upcoming series, People Of Earth, is coming out on cable. I was reading the synopsis, and it described your character as a journalist that’s skeptical of the idea of aliens. Your character is skeptical, but what does Wyatt Cenac think about the possibility of there being extraterrestrials?
It’s a very arrogant position as human beings to assume that we are the only life in the universe. I don’t know if there are little green men running around, but I assume there is some sort of life that exists beyond our star.
I was actually just reading something in the paper yesterday. Some scientist wrote a paper talking about how the probability for the existence of life on other planets is much higher than we have normally given it credit for.
Are those creatures just paramecium swimming around in water? Or are they weird cockroach creatures that have spaceships we can’t see? I don’t know. I’ll go more on the paramecium side.
It’s a weird thing to assume that in all this real estate that is the galaxy, we’re the only things living and breathing. I would be concerned if that was the case, because that would mean we’re the anomaly, we’re the tumor.
Have you seen these stories about this group of women that claim they’ve given birth to alien babies?
They’re called the “hybrid baby community” or something like that. They claim aliens have been harvesting their DNA to create children.
What? Wow. I feel like that’s a person who has an ugly baby who doesn’t want to take credit. [laughs]… “No, it must have been aliens, because look at these creatures. Look at this bone structure. I’m gonna give birth to a beautiful baby. I’m not giving birth to that mutant. That can’t be me. That’s an alien.”
Night Train with Wyatt Cenac premieres Thursday, June 30 on Seeso.