Alex Schumacher
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May 11, 2016
Four Poems by Joseph Sheehan/ FIve 2 One Magazine
#thesideshow May 13th 2016 Four Poems by Joseph Sheehan
May 12, 2016

#thesideshow May 11th 2016 flash fiction The Too Late Show by Michael Keith

       The Too Late Show


Michael C. Keith


Cyril Kazan had been bothered for quite some time––at least since he’d turned 60 a half dozen years earlier––that he couldn’t stay awake long enough to watch the television late night talk shows. This was also true for his wife, Kayla.

Typically the Kazans would nod off by 9:30-10 o’clock as they sat in front of their 15 year-old, 28-inch Panasonic television. This issue so gnawed at Cyril that he finally wrote the programming departments of the major broadcast networks with a suggestion that he hoped they might embrace.


His letter read as follows:


Dear Program Executive:


My wife and I are now in our 60s and find it very difficult to stay awake long

enough to enjoy your late night talk show. We greatly miss and long for

the glory days of Johnny Carson when we were younger––we can’t tell you how much we loved Ed and Doc. For a time we watched Jay Leno, but then we

began to experience drowsiness because of the late hour of the broadcast.


Would it be possible for you to schedule an “early” late night talk show designed for seniors, say beginning at 8 PM? I believe there’s a huge potential audience

for such an program given the aging Baby-Boomer population. This “early”

late night talk show, as I’m calling it for lack of a better name, could feature

hosts and guests in the same age demographic as its viewers, making it all the more relevant and appealing.


If you would give this proposal appropriate consideration, we would very much appreciate it.



Cyril Kazan

Two months later, Cyril received a reply to his letter from one of the networks.


Dear Mr. Zakan,


Thank you for your programming suggestion. While we understand your

frustration stemming from an inability to stay up long enough to watch

our late night talk show (we realize it is difficult to be old), we’re afraid we cannot comply with your request.


The reason for this is purely economic. Elderly viewers––those in their twilight years––do not appeal to sponsors, with the exception of pharmaceutical

and adult diaper manufacturers. While there is profit to be made from them, it

pales by comparison to that spent by advertisers wishing to reach the 24-39

year old viewer.


May we suggest a possible solution to your dilemma? You might DVR our

late night talk show for viewing at an hour when you are fully conscious. If

you’re not familiar with this technology (and that would be understandable

given your considerable age), we’re sure your cable provider can explain

it to you.

Very sincerely,


Donald J. Caufield, Jr.

Vice President, Audience Relations

Cyril was infuriated by what he saw was Caufield’s unnecessarily demeaning response, and he dashed off yet another letter––this time sending it via Express Mail:


Dear Mr. Caulfeld, Junior,


Your message was an insult to my intelligence, and it’s clear that you have an

enormous gap in yours to think that only older people with medical and

bladder issues can inspire advertising revenues. Furthermore, to be of the

opinion that folks of a certain age are beyond grasping the rudiments

of modern video technology shows just how uniformed you are about my


Are you aware that the founders of your medium, David Sarnoff and William

Paley, were still at the helm of their networks (NBC and CBS respectively, in

case you don’t know) long past their 70th birthdays? Of course, I suppose you

would have held them in equal contempt because of their “mature” age.

Anyway, I don’t want to take up anymore of your valuable time, as I suspect

there are tremendous pressures on you to come up with more brilliant programs,

like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Toddlers in Tiaras.” These network

shows reflect the sad reality of your insufficient programming talent.

Finally, I’ve concluded that the reason why we snooze in front of the television

so early is that there isn’t anything stimulating enough to keep us up until

your late talk show comes on.


With all due dis-respect,

Cyril K-A-Z-A-N, Senior (and proud of it)

Cyril was surprised when a week later he received an envelope from Caufield containing two complimentary tickets to his network’s 1:30 AM “Late, Late Show.”

A note accompanying the tickets read: “Hope you’re up for this.”


Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction.