Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, March 14, 2021

A couple of days ago, I was watching an old episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. One scene took place on a fictional nighttime talk show. Even though it was made up, I noticed something odd about the way the talk show set was arranged:

The host and his desk were positioned on the left-hand side, while the guest chair was to the right.

This is the opposite of the setup you’ll see on every other latenight talk show host’s digs, past and present. Letterman, Leno, Carson, O’Brien, Kimmel — none of them vary from the standard guests on the left, and host on the right (from the camera/audience perspective, of course; for those on the stage, the positions are reoriented, so that the guest is looking to his/her left and the host to his right).

I’m wondering if there isn’t some sort of TV science behind this template. It could be as simple as institutionalized imitation — Carson or Jack Paar started it, and no one’s ever questioned it. Or, like many other details of television mechanics, someone at some point actually researched this and found that it was a key to success.

A quick Web search didn’t yield anything but others wondering about the same thing. But during my surfing, I was suddenly reminded of Andy Kaufman’s wonderful spoof, “The Andy Kaufman Show”, which included jabs like a preposterously elevated host’s desk to mock the heightening that Carson and Letterman allegedly used/use. I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere in there, if I look hard enough.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/14/2006 11:05:43 PM
Category: TV, Celebrity | Permalink |

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