Behind the Scenes at LateNet with Ray Ellin: Comedy's evolution is in full effect!

Late Net When the late-night talk-show format meets stand-up comedy and the Internet, a new breed of variety show is born. And with the help of Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Drescher, hilarity ensues.

by Dylan P. Gadino | Photos by Kevin Duffy

Since its launch, has been treating comedy a bit differently than most Web sites. Its founder Ray Ellin, a New York City-based stand-up comedian, wanted to establish a place where professional comedians, amateurs, open-mic types and fans of all the above could come and hang out, write some jokes and network with other joke tellers.

His plan seems to be working as the site continues to prosper. But Ellin’s not done using his comedic prowess in novel, hip ways. In May, and PalTalk, the Internet-video-community service, joined forces to produce LateNet With Ray Ellin, the first-ever live, interactive online-comedy variety show.

Shot at Comix comedy club in Manhattan, the production presented the first time a talk show was simultaneously put on for a live audience as well as millions of viewers over the Internet. Comics, guests and even audience members could interact with folks in their living rooms around the world.

Ray Ellin“I had hosted a TV show a few years ago and loved doing it,” Ellin says. “I always thought it’d be cool to incorporate the Internet; that way, I could interact with the viewing audience in real time and also expand my audience to include people from all over the world. So once I got up and running and the partnership with PalTalk was formed, I realized that my idea for a show that combined a studio audience and a Web audience was technologically possible. So fellow comedian Dan Naturman and I fleshed it out.”

Recently, Ellin and friends produced LateNet‘s second episode, this time at the famed Gotham Comedy Club in New York City. The show included guests Fran Drescher, Gilbert Gottfried and performances by comedians Russ Meneve, DC Benny and comedic hip-hop group Cracked Out.

For a show in its infancy, that’s a stellar lineup. “We have a budget but it’s not very big,” Ellin says. “So you find yourself doing a bit of everything, from production to promotion to marketing to guests to writing and then hosting it. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun.”

Punchline Magazine was there to catch the most recent show as well as some behind-the-scenes moments. The next LateNet show airs July 31. Until then enjoy some of the images and happenings of the previous episode.

Fran Dresher2:54 pm: With little more than five hours until showtime, LateNet host Ray Ellin sits at a corner table at Gotham Comedy Club, calmly talking into his cell phone and at the same time reading over the script for tonight’s live broadcast. He’s been at the venue since noon. The club’s stage has been minimally transformed into your typical late- night-talk-show set: a simple but classy desk, adorned with a flat-screen monitor — currently just showing an electric blue face — perches on the raised platform. Larry, the teleprompter guy, calls to Ellin asking what version of the script he wants running through the teleprompter. No less than five crew members crisscross the club’s floor constantly testing and repositioning lights that hang from the ceiling.

3:02 pm: A microphone comes to life as the first sound test begins. A young crew member scales
a 1,000-foot ladder to move one light six inches to the right.

3:11 pm: Ray gets behind the desk and makes edits to the script; he eats some lunch.

3:17 pm: As he keys in edits to his opening bits directly into the teleprompter software, Ray runs some of the monologue’s jokes by a visitor. In the end, most of the jokes stand up; but he substitutes “John Travolta” for “Tom Cruise” in one circumcision-themed gay joke.

3:56 pm: Ray and his Paul Schaffer-equivalent, Dan O’Connor, take to the stage to run through a few entrance cues and some loosely rehearsed banter that will later hopefully feel unrehearsed.

4:19 pm: Kim Weinstein, the show’s makeup pro for the day, arrives and consults with Ray onstage.

4:46 pm: Ray runs through the opening monologue rather smoothly but stops each time to discuss musical cues with Dan.

5:39 pm: Musical guest Michael Lanning sound checks.

Late Net7: 17 pm: Guest Gilbert Gottfried sits quietly with a glass of Diet Coke in Gotham’s downstairs lounge, which is occupied only with Cracked Out (Brett Gelman and Jon Daly) reviewing their script and Kim. Gottfried gladly chats with the few people that know he’s there. If you’re wondering, no, he has a normal voice. He’s actually extremely soft-spoken. Ellin’s now in a well-tailored suit. He talks with Gilbert about how the show will play out.

7:28 pm: Fran Drescher, also a guest on tonight’s show, walks down the stairs with a huge smile on her face and heads directly to the small green room.

7:41 pm: Kim treats Ray to a bit of makeup.

8:00 pm: The show starts. Hilarity ensues.

The next LateNet with Ray Ellin will be broadcast July 31. For more information, check out

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor emeritus of Laughspin.

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