Almost Live!

Almost Live!

infobox television
show_name = Almost Live!

caption = The "Almost Live" logo
format = Comedy, Variety Show
runtime = 30 minutes

starring = Ross Shafer, John Keister, Pat Cashman, Tracey Conway, Nancy Guppy, Barb Klansnic, Joel McHale, Bob Nelson, Bill Nye, Bill Stainton, Lauren Weedman, Steve Wilson, and Ed Wyatt
country = USA
network = KING-TV
first_aired = 1984
last_aired = 1999
num_episodes = unknown
imdb_id = 0149413|

"Almost Live!" is a local sketch comedy television show in Seattle, Washington, USA, produced and broadcast by NBC affiliate KING-TV from 1984 to 1999. A re-packaged version of the show also aired on Comedy Central from 1992 to 1993, and episodes aired on WGRZ-TV in the late 1990s.


Original format

"Almost Live!" began as a weekly half-hour talk show created and hosted by Ross Shafer and closely patterned after "Late Night with David Letterman", airing at 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. The show became so popular that it was expanded from a half hour to one hour and shown twice a week. After four years and nearly 40 Emmy Awards, Shafer left to host the Fox Network's "The Late Show".

John Keister and a change in format

After several guest hosts were used, John Keister became the permanent replacement. Until that time, Keister was an occasional supporting performer. It was apparent that Keister's talents weren't served during interviews, so the guest interviews and live band segments were dropped. The focus changed to sketch comedy and the show was shaved back to a half-hour format.

The format of the show during Keister's tenure as host always included an opening monologue. Much of the material had a local flavor to it. In addition to Seattle politicians and celebrities, regular targets of the show’s barbs were various Seattle sports teams, local stereotypes, Seattle neighborhoods such as Ballard (home of elderly Scandinavian Americans who parked their cars halfway onto sidewalks with the seat belts slammed in the doors), Fremont and Wallingford (home of middle-aged hippies and new-agers), and suburbs such as Renton and Kent (perceived by the show’s young, urban viewers as a low-income, "white trash" town) and Bellevue and Mercer Island (which had a snobbish, ultra-rich image). Other targets outside of Seattle proper included Olympia and Bellingham, both of which have hippie/ stereotypes. Most, but not all, of the local references were removed for the Comedy Central version. The show also had promos for fake TV shows billed as "new shows on KING 5 for the upcoming season".

Air times

The show was broadcast on Saturday nights at 11:30 p.m., pushing "Saturday Night Live" back to midnight.


"Almost Live!" was canceled by KING-TV in 1999 because it was not making enough profit. The station has aired reruns of the show ever since, now in the time slot following "Saturday Night Live". In fall 2000, Keister created a new sketch comedy show for competing station KIRO-TV, titled "The John Report with Bob", essentially a carry-over of the news report segment he had done on "Almost Live!", with Bob Nelson in tow. The new show was canceled after a year, again because it was not making a profit.


Reruns are broadcast on KING-TV in Seattle at 1:05 a.m., following "Saturday Night Live". KING aired a reunion show on September 12, 2005, featuring the cast of the final ten years.

KING-5 aired "Almost Live! Back At Ya", a series of "best of" shows, on Sundays starting September 10, 2006 at 9 p.m. [ [ Pat Cashman writer public speaker ] ] . The series aired until December, and are not on the air at the moment.


Some of the recurring sketches featured on "Almost Live" included:

*"Bill Nye the Science Guy"
*"Capable Woman" (super heroine who "rescues" men too "manly" to admit they can't do everything)
*"Jet Guy" (parody of Republic Pictures' 1950s serial character, "Commando Cody")
*"Me" ("talk show" hosted by egotistical woman who acts as if she is smarter than everyone else)
*"Mind Your Manners with Billy Quan" (parody of Bruce Lee’s martial arts films)
*"Nature Walk, with Chuck" (reckless alcoholic outdoors man and naïve young assistant)
* Parody of "Cops" set in various Seattle neighborhoods
*"Speed Walker" (super hero who fights crime while adhering to the standards of competitive speed-walking)
*"The High-Five’n White Guys"
*"Ineffectual Middle-Management Suck-ups"
*"The John Report" [1990-95] /"The Late Report" [1995-end of run] (weekly news-parody, similar to "Weekend Update")
*"The Lame List (Or, "What’s Weak This Week)" (local members of "Seattle's heavy metal community", such as Kim Thayil of grunge band Soundgarden yelling "lame" to whatever topic the announcer would present). Also in a rotating schedule were Colin Matson, Brad Hull, and Tony Benjamin of local Seattle band Forced Entry as well as members of other local bands. When an especially difficult topic or question would arise, everyone would stare and go "Huh?" with blank stares until the announcer gave up and asked a more simple question to which everyone would yell "Lame" in understanding. There were actually two "Lame List" casts, both of which were anchored by Jeff Gilbert, a local disc jockey on KCMU's "Brain Pain" radio show who later received national attention for his work as a writer for RIP and Guitar World magazines. The first cast also included Matt and Chris Fox of speed metal band Bitter End (later signed by Metal Blade Records. Matt later played in Dr. Unknown, Camarosmith, and the Squirrels; Chris appeared on Geoff Tate's solo album in 2003). The second cast included Tony Benjamins and Brad Hull from Forced Entry, as well as their roadie Jeff Hubbard, along with Marty Chandler from Panic (another Metal Blade artist, now playing with the Ones), Soundgarden's Kim Thayil, and Jeff Gilbert. The first and second set of episodes were also distinguished by different logos and progressively better production values.
*"Sluggy" (a parody of "Lassie" about a boy and his pet slug)
*"The Survivalist" (paranoid man with program from his underground bunker)
*"This Here Place" (a parody of the show "This Old House", only featuring poorly done and lazy repair jobs.)
*"The Worst Girlfriend In The World" (dating "horror stories")
*"Uncle Fran’s Musical Forest" (embittered children's show host)
*"Urban Wildlife"
*"Street Talk," which dubbed in voices for people unknowingly videotaped on city streets. This bit was later used as the basis for a CBS pilot co-created and produced by Scott Schaefer and hosted by Bill Maher.

Some sketches were borrowed for the Fox TV series "Haywire" in 1990.

Bill Nye

Ross Shafer is credited as the man who invented "Bill Nye the Science Guy", encouraging Boeing aircraft engineer Bill Nye to demonstrate science experiments on the show. Nye later turned it into the "Bill Nye the Science Guy" show on PBS. A recurring segment on the PBS show was "Mind Your Manners with Billy Quan", which was originally a recurring sketch on "Almost Live!"

Cast members

Besides the host, regular cast members included Mike Neun, Pat Cashman, Tracey Conway, Nancy Guppy, Joe Guppy, Barb Klansnic, Joel McHale, Bob Nelson, Bill Nye, Bill Stainton, Darrell Suto, Lauren Weedman, Steve Wilson, and Ed Wyatt. Writers included Scott Schaefer, who later went on to win three National Emmy Awards for writing on "Bill Nye the Science Guy", and original Head Writer Jim Sharp, who is now Senior Vice President, Original Programming and Development for Comedy Central in Los Angeles. Later seasons occasionally featured Seattle-area comedian and voice actor David Scully who joined the core cast during the final season.


External links

* [ KING-TV "Almost Live!" website]
* [ Jump The Shark - Almost Live!]

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