Witty Marchenko to host Ukraine's late night show
Iurii Marchenko has been working in journalism for more than 13 years. He's worked for a newspaper, an online magazine and a radio station.
Now he's moving on to television and will host the next season of the late night show on Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA Pershyi.
Marchenko, 35, says journalism is not about mastering particular media — it’s all about the skill of telling stories.
“I realized a long time ago that I'm a journalist who is interested in everything. I just like to tell stories,” Marchenko told the Kyiv Post in an interview on June 20.
In his new show, which will air for the first time on June 23, Marchenko will include all the classic elements of a late night show — performing stand-up and talking to public figures — in order to popularize the format in Ukraine and add high-quality humor to the national television schedule.
The first season of the late night show on UA Pershyi was launched in October and ran until January, hosted by Michael Shchur, the TV persona of a Ukrainian journalist Roman Vintoniv. Vintoniv, who also hosts a satirical news show called #@) ?$0 and who is a board member of UA Pershyi, struggled with his busy schedule, which led the channel to look for a replacement for him on the late night show.
Marchenko found out that the show was looking for a host when he met Vintoniv at a party in February. The former host asked Marchenko if he wanted to dip a toe in the water.
“I thought: ‘Why not?’” Marchenko said.
For the audition, which took place two months later, Marchenko was assigned to interview Albert Tsukrenko, the leader of Ukrainian band Hamerman Znyshchue Virusy.
“It was horrible. I didn’t quite understand what to do, how to behave. And these spotlights that fry your face up are the worst thing on television.”
Despite the spotlights, however, Marchenko was chosen as the new host from among over 200 other contenders.
The team of the show told him it was his fast and spontaneous humor that won him the job. However, they also mentioned his weak spot — because of the absence of television experience, Marchenko doesn’t look emotional enough on screen.
“And yet they chose me because of a bribe, of course. I'm kidding. I actually slept my way to the top,” Marchenko jokes.
Despite taking a new job, Marchenko will remain the chief editor of the online magazine Platforma, which he joined in 2014. He says that combining both projects is quite hard, and so he is focusing on the TV show as the team gets it up and
But Marchenko says he hopes to find a balance soon, as he is “very affectionately attached” to Platforma.
The Late Night Show With Iurii Marchenko will air every Saturday, and the season will last till the end of the summer.
The 36-minute show will feature the host’s stand-up routines, famous guests from a range of fields, satirical sketches about life in Ukraine and music performances by Ukrainian bands. The team has already recorded four episodes.
Marchenko says that he takes part in editing the script and gives suggestions to the writers.
“Being a talking head, who just speaks others’ thoughts, is not interesting to me. So I certainly read (the script), make comments, and make changes,” he said.
He says he also participates in deciding which guests to invite, and hopes to show unexpected sides to well-known public figures.
Apart from entertainment, the show will cover important political and social events and reforms in Ukraine — so government officials and lawmakers will be among the guests.
Marchenko will also get help from his co-host — actor and director Istan Rozymny — who was raised in a Ukrainian family in Canada.
“He has the amazing perception of a foreigner who loves this country, but understands nothing about it,” Marchenko says. “He's also handsome, so we’re nothing alike there too.”
More late nights
The late night talk show genre started in the United States in the mid-20th century. However, Ukraine has its own history of the format.
SV-Show was a talk show hosted by a stage persona and singer Verka Serduchka, which aired in the late 1990s.
Together with her sidekick Helia (actress Radmyla Schoholeva), Verka Serduchka interviewed local celebrities, and was sharp and entertaining.
Since then, however, there have been few attempts to revive the format, and it has never been very popular.
Marchenko assumes that’s because the Ukrainian TV audience and the format’s potential audience are not well matched.
“I think TV is watched by an older audience, and the format assumes a great liveliness of mind, a taste for irony, and self-deprecation.”
He believes that TV programs of such kind can help viewers develop critical thinking.
With the show’s team, Marchenko hopes to lay the foundations for the development of the genre in Ukraine.
“I don’t have the ambition to become the most famous TV presenter in Ukraine, I don’t care about it,” Marchenko said. “I want to make a product that I won’t be ashamed of.”
The Late Night Show With Iurii Marchenko. Every Saturday at 9:25 p. m. Watch on the UA Pershyi TV channel or at www. 1tv. com. ua
Ukrainian Greco-Roman wrestler Zhan Beleniuk (L), co-host Istan Rozumny (C) and host Iurii Marchenko take part in the filming of the Late Night Show on the UA Pershyi TV channel. (UA:Pershyi press service/Volodymyr Shevchuk)
New Late Night Show hos on the UA Pershyi TV channel Iurii Marchenko. (Oleg Petrasiuk)