Every Sunday at midnight, a small, dedicated and "larger than you'd think" group of viewers -- primarily freshmen -- tune in to Midnight Live, UTV's longest running and most popular show. The hosts -- junior Jason Kaufman and sophomore Trang Do -- keep the energy high, while sophomore Executive Producer Dave Reisner and sophomore Producer Liz Thomas make sure that the show runs smoothly behind-the-scenes. It's very informal and fun, and as the only remaining live show on UTV, it's special.
Kaufman's aim on the show is simple: "People look at UTV and they don't watch, and I think the goal of the show is to get people to watch and not just look at it as a stupid television show ... If the best way to get them involved is to have them call, even if they just want to make fun of the host, then that's cool -- they're watching, and that's a big step."
A long-time fan of the show, Kaufman now holds the reins, appreciating and welcoming the jibes that a live call-in show will bring.
Callers insult the hosts a lot. "It's anything goes," Thomas says. "Except there are some limits." The producers will not allow someone's cell phone number to be given out on the air. Other than that, the show is uncensored, and the calls -- which often take on a lascivious, homo-erotic bent -- can get pretty raunchy.
"It's a tradition with Midnight Live," Thomas says. "The guy host is always the gay one." Even if the viewership includes many women, nearly all the calls are from men. Most of them talk about their fondness for Kaufman's body and also speak openly of their fantastical sexual exploits with him.
The producers try to have guests appear whenever possible. Kaufman's first show featured -- as do countless Penn events -- a shirtless Jason Levy. The producers recall Levy humping Do's predecessor's leg; she quit only a few shows later. Other past guests include competitors in the Ms. and Mr. Penn bodybuilding competition, members of the Penn Rugby team and representitives from the Penn Democrats and Republicans. Generally, the guests come on with some agenda -- like political debate -- and what they get from the callers is anything but scholarly argument.
Midnight Live features viewer-targeted games, picked for specific reasons; Kaufman checks them off on his fingers: "What's fun, what will appeal to our male viewers, what has potential to embarrass me. That's key." The names are self-explanatory: "Hot or Not," "Chick or Dick," and "Jailbait or Date." Those who correctly pick the picture's content on two out of three slides win prizes ranging from current movie posters to t-shirts.
Midnight Live may not have a fan club per se, but Kaufman contends: "It's nice to be recognized on the street ... especially by the ladies"