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.

Why not?

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.

Guests, top­ics

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)

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