Two Late with Rob and Joe at the Adrienne Theater

The St.Claire and the Artblog are ecstatic to present the 16 finalists of the New Art Writing Challenge. The challenge generated over 70 unique pieces of writing all examining and engaging art in Philadelphia. Thanks to all those who participated and thanks to our jurors — Hrag Vartanian, Abigail Satinsky and Nell McClister.  Below is Mike Jackson’s finalist entry in the 1000 Words or Less category

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(IMAGE: Two Late with Rob and Joe at the Adrienne Theater. Image courtesy of Mike Jackson”)


On January 23, 2015, I sat front and center at Two Late, a late night talk show in the mold of Letterman and Conan. The show is performed once a month at the Adrienne theater in Philadelphia, and hosted by Rob Alesiani and Joe Tuzzi. It could best be described as a hectic hour-long frenzy – at the center of which, the hosts seemed quite comfortable.

The obvious difference between Two Late and any other late night show I’ve seen on television is that it was done solely for the audience that was in the theater that night. With no one watching at home, Rob and Joe were able to turn the show into a collaborative effort between themselves and the audience. This was evident in their monologue (duologue?), where they seemed to take the temperature of each audience laugh and/or groan, and use it as a guidepost for where to take the next joke. Throughout the evening, the success of the show was dependent on the engagement of the audience.

We were introduced to Human Cornhole, which featured two audience members throwing marshmallows across the stage at two other other audience members, who were trying to catch as many as they could in their mouths. When the game was over and fabulous prizes were distributed, those of us in the crowd shared the leftover marshmallows.

We met Jervis Cottonbelly, an English professional wrestler of style and sophistication. The grappling gentleman of wrestling was equal parts charming and cartoon-like on the Two Late couch. He played perfectly off of the audience, garnering laughs, and plenty of “awws” as he spoke about how he loves to hug, and how he’d finish off Mankind for the championship belt by “tickling his belly.” (In hindsight, that probably should have been obvious.)

Alex Hillman and Adam Teterus came out to talk about coworking, and particularly coworking at Indy Hall in Old City. (Full disclosure, I’m an Indy Hall member myself, and I know both of these guys.) Alex and Adam masterfully articulated how they define community, and how that relates to working together. Their segment was an educational riff on Two Late’s driving force of collaboration between those on stage, and those in the audience. With its mix of anecdotes and expertise, this part of the show felt like when Jack Hannah would bring wild animals out to the late night couch and help the nervous host let his guard down to learn something.

During the segment with Alex and Adam, I felt like the show really hit a high note. Cottonbelly, who had slid down the couch to make room for the Indy Hallers, together with Rob and Joe, created a wonderful dynamic on stage together. It was built around the five men actually listening to each other, and it was both funny and sincere.

To close out the show (after another round of Human Cornhole between Rob, Joe, Alex, Adam – with Jervis officiating), the hosts welcomed comedian Sidney Gantt to the stage. He was so sharp, and the rhythm and subtlety of his delivery was brilliant. He easily got some of the hardest laughs of the night. He’d make an ace couch guest the next time he graces the Two Late stage.

Instead of dividing the theater into stage and audience, Rob and Joe used the entire atmosphere of the room to ultimately make Two Late bigger than a talk show. They were the ringleaders, for sure, but everyone was welcomed into the club. As an audience member who had say in the direction of the show, but with no clue as to what they actually had planned, everything had an element of spontaneity. That was the beauty of the entire experience.

Mike Jackson is an illustrator and visual journalist who lives with his wife in Philadelphia, PA. His work focuses on real people and all of the fantastically absurd things of which they’re capable. His portfolio can be seen at

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