by Terrance V. Mc Arthur
Late at night, do you ever sit on the couch like an Idaho Russet potato, watching Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, or any of the other talk shows, and you wonder, “What would it be like to have my own talk show?”
Brandon Delsid wondered, and his dreams came true. You can see them come true on Basically Brandon, Fresno’s own arts & entertainment live web talk show on CentralValleyTalk.com, Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m…more or less (Sometimes it starts a little late, and sometimes it runs over, but that’s the general time-frame). The season’s last show will air Wednesday, May 23.
Brandon, host of the show, an almost-18-year-old graduate of University High School, has been performing in local theatre for years, including the part of Scuttle the Seagull in The Little Mermaid. He’s rail-thin, somewhat confused in his clothing choices (ranging from deep-V T-shirts to plaid shirts, with vests on the side). His hair is somewhere between the early Beatles and Justin Bieber, with his locks pressing down on a Buddy Holly/Clark Kent pair of glasses. He’s exuberant, pop-culturally-aware, and he always manages to find space on his show for a film clip from one of the Real Housewives programs.
Oddly enough, Brandon’s talk show was born out of “an act of boredom,” according to Dominic Grijalva, Public Relations director for Basically Brandon. He says, “Brandon had always been saying how he would like to star in his own reality TV series, and I suppose one night he and Kylie, our producer, were in the CentralValleyTalk.com studio, and she decided to put Brandon in front of the camera and just talk.”
Brandon’s producer, Kylie Briggs, is the daughter of Mike Briggs, who started Central Valley Talk.According to Kylie, “Brandon and I were working on different ideas, and one day, while brainstorming at the studio, he sat down in front of the camera, I hit record, and it blew up from there!”
Brandon says that a talk show was not the project he had originally worked on for Central Valley Talk, that “I was actually filming a new show for Central Valley Talk that was going to be Fresno’s First Reality Show, following me and my friends’ lives. We filmed for about a month last October.” Then Kylie put Brandon on the air, and Basically Brandon was born at the studio in the Mike Briggs Properties office in Fresno’s Tower District.
Greg Ruud is the show’s Guest Coordinator, preparing people for the show experience and going over questions before the interviews, as well as being a semi-frequent guest. He says, “My feeling is our primary call, besides journalistic integrity (haha), is promoting local theater and performers. All of us on the show perform in local productions pretty much constantly so we all have those connections. We look for interesting people to come on who might not often get a chance to be in front of the camera. An example of that was Donald Munro, I loved having him come on and talk about reviewing and give us a little background on himself.”
As the show’s producer, Kylie handles all the technological aspects (graphics, titles, adjusting camera angles, delivering chat/twitter/Facebook messages to Brandon at just the right time, and pre-show setup. She has a strong view of the show’s purpose; “Basically Brandon is—first and foremost—a platform to stress the importance of theatre in the Valley. It’s an art form that’s often overlooked by the mainstream media, and we think it’s one of the best things about Fresno!”
Segments include bands, on-air cooking, interviews with local directors, Skyping with Broadway performers, a stage managers’ roundtable of the backstage movers and shakers of local theatre groups, and a chicken (who appeared repeatedly, was interviewed, and provided background vocals and choreography for Pamela Henri & the Big Boss Band). That’s not all! Brandon remembers, “We had a cheetah on our show a few months ago. A cheetah! That had to be one of my favorite episodes we’ve done!”
One of the unique attributes of Basically Brandon is its use of modern media. According to Brandon, “A cool thing about CentralValleyTalk.com is if you are watching Basically Brandon you can chat in live on their website during the show. That seemed to be something really unique that our viewers loved because we always read out their comments, Tweets, or Facebook posts during the show and I think it makes the whole show in general really interactive. It also allows us to now give away prizes and do contests with our tweeters and Facebook followers. We figured it was a no-brainer for a modern talk show in 2012 to incorporate all of those aspects.”
Brandon’s production staff members have high praise for the star of the show. Dominic says, “He is very witty, light on his feet and has a quick tongue. When we have guests on, sometimes we worry if they’ll be overwhelmed by Brandon’s personality, but he is so able to adjust himself to make our guests comfortable and bring out the best from them very easily.”
Kylie points out Brandon’s breezy style, that “Brandon is extremely natural on camera. He has a way of making the audience at home feel like they’re right there with him. He also makes guests very comfortable and gets them to do silly stuff they probably wouldn’t normally do.”
Greg enjoys the studio atmosphere. Although he is twenty years older than the rest of the group, Greg says, “As a team, we laugh so much during the filming sessions, which is another reason I like to be a part. I love the dynamic between Brandon and Camille (Gaston, Brandon’s co-host). Brandon knows how to connect with people, his engaging nature comes through on the show I feel. He works hard at finding people who are interesting to be on the show, he researches in advance and formulates the questions before we go on air, and his skill as an interviewer continues to grow. Add to all those things that he is damn cute and full of fun and life.”
Brandon tries to get inspiration from other masters of the talk show form, and says, “I like to say our show is a happy medium of Wayne’s World and Chelsea Lately. We love to joke about celebrities, showcase a great band, and watch me try to understand a sports article, and more—all during one episode. I love watching Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon to see talented men like them at work and get inspiration!”
As the first season ends, Kylie is working on plans for the future, saying, “There isn’t a specific date set for the return; it will probably be once everyone’s summer shows that they’re performing in are over! We’re not sure if things will be exactly the same, because some of us will have moved or be in school, but I’m sure Brandon has some exciting surprises up his sleeve!”
Brandon looks forward to more webcasting. He says, “Our big season 1 finale is going to be on Wednesday May 23 at 10:30 p.m. After that, we are going to go on hiatus for a bit, but we already have big things in the works for season 2, which will start sometime this summer. We want to start filming more skits, expand our guest lists with more interesting people, maybe put on a web musical, and—of course—showcase more talented performers from Fresno! We want to keep some of the big surprises under wraps, but stay tuned!”