The Avant Late Show

Christine Hill Tapes Her Own TV Pilot, for Art's Sake

During the tour-guide piece, she met one of O'Brien's writers, and has since been backstage at his show five or six times. She's fascinated by the process: "Where do people stand? How does the teleprompter work? Who just walked by with a clipboard and what does she do?" And she's fascinated by the performance itself: "a brilliant sculpture." Because many people in the audience watch the monitor throughout the taping instead of the stage, while Conan focuses on the camera.

Her own approach to doing a talk show is all about setting up an infrastructure, when it's easy to imagine other would-be hosts going from comedy club to comedy club, honing their bits. Hill, who's been studying improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade for a little over a year, feels completely confident about performing: "I don't think the monologue or even the fact of appearing as host is at all a departure for me." Meanwhile, she's creating a meticulous calendar, hanging everyone's clipboard (and All-Access pass) on the wall in a grid, making calls about bleacher rentals for the taping, deciding about couches. The evening's been mapped: monologue and intro, six minutes and 52 seconds; walk to desk, four seconds. Et cetera.

Hill on the "set" of Pilot: "I always think that if you want to do something avant-garde, it doesn’t mean a departure from the norm."
photo: Robin Holland
Hill on the "set" of Pilot: "I always think that if you want to do something avant-garde, it doesn’t mean a departure from the norm."

She hopes to hire a band from among those she's encountered in the subways. She has a sidekick, artist Dave Herman, and he's created a video remote about Teddy Roosevelt—historical, yes, but humorous. They'll do a couple of comic sketches together, and Hill plans on two or three guests. She decided against celebrities. Instead, she's really hoping to get, for example, a perfume sprayer from Bergdorf Goodman. "People whose job it is to spray you," she clarifies. "That's exactly the kind of thing I'm interested in. Because there's this whole persona involved. You can't be reclusive and be a perfume sprayer at Bergdorf. It's so haughty—at the same time, kind of affronting. This person who advises you on your smell. I think that's fascinating."

The completed tape will be on view, along with the set and workspace, through October 14 at the Feldman Gallery, 31 Mercer Street.

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