The audience of trendy millennials sits in a circle surrounding four hosts in a Brooklyn warehouse.
The scene looks more like a casual party than a talk show — and that’s what “Vice Live” is aiming for.
The show, hosted by musician/designer/comedian Zack Fox, actress/comedian Marie Faustin, alt-rapper Fat Tony and comedian/writer Sandy Honig airs every Monday through Thursday (10-11 p.m.) on Viceland from a studio in Williamsburg.
“Vice Live” is part of parent company Vice Media’s efforts to beef up its TV and movie projects targeting millennials in the wake of a revenue slowdown that’s expected to result in company-wide layoffs.
“What’s popular right now are podcasts, and I feel like this is basically a live podcast you can watch,” says Honig. “It’s a lot less structured than most late-night shows. We don’t have a monologue, we don’t have a ton of pre-written jokes. It’s more casual.”
While the studio audience is comprised of younger viewers, that’s just because those are the types of people who are out at 10 p.m. on a weeknight, says Fat Tony. “I want to speak to people that want to listen,” he says.
Each episode of “Vice Live” features the four hosts discussing pop culture issues (including the ongoing Jussie Smollett saga) and can include segments covering anything from impromptu fashion shows to celebrity guests, including director Spike Jonze and “Veep” co-star Sam Richardson. The structure is freewheeling, and the hosts often make adjustments on the spot to cover topical subjects such as the recent HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” about Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of boys.
“We had a couple stories that day and we ended up just talking about Michael Jackson,” says Honig. “When we went to commercial we decided, ‘Let’s just keep talking about this because there’s so much to it.’ ”
‘I feel like this is basically a live podcast you can watch.’
Launched Feb. 25, “Vice Live” originally filled two hours of airtime, but was cut down to one hour for a better-streamlined show and more focused discussions.
“It felt kind of stressful the first night, and never again after that,” says Fat Tony. “From Day One, it was obvious to all four of us that to make the show work, we need to be into it and have fun and have our ideas and our tastes be at the forefront. I don’t want to do the typical run-of-the mill s–t.”
So what does that mean?
“I want the show to be something that people can watch and see someone they wouldn’t see somewhere else,” says Faustin. “Hilarious comedians who haven’t made it yet, or musicians or bands that haven’t popped yet. We want people to one day be like, ‘Oh the first show we ever did was ‘Vice Live,’ remember that terrible show?’” she says jokingly. “Someone on Twitter called us the adult Disney Channel the other day. I was like, this is the best compliment!”
Fox says that he also thinks the show feels like the classic era of MTV.
“I think all of Bush-era pop culture TV is in redux right now anyway, all that stuff comes back to be en vogue,” he says. “There’s a big lane to be weird and interesting on late-night TV that hasn’t really been attacked lately.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t really watch a lot of late night but I’d watch shows that were on Comedy Central [that were] themed around nighttime, like Dave Attel’s ‘Insomniac.’ Even Carson Daly when he came back [after ‘TRL’] he had a late-night show and it was really cool.”
“We want it to feel like a TV party” says Faustin. “It’s a conversation — you should feel like you’re sitting with your friends for an hour.”