Comedy Central was among the first networks to defy the cable industry's resistance to airing full episodes of cable fare online. The company has been putting Jon Stewart online for years. Now the network is reversing the polarity with a full-bore online-only Web talk show. Comedy Central's Portable Lounge is true to its name. this is a traveling talk show. It is designed to appear just about anywhere. The set is a pair of foldable beach chairs, a wooden crate and a cheesy red-shaded lamp. Let the hilarity commence.
The series does not seem to be committing to a daily or weekly schedule, and the format calls for rotating hosts and guests from the comedy community. The first episode appeared late last week, with Chris Gethard, star of upcoming Comedy Central series "Big Lake" interviewing Saturday Night Live regular Bobby Moynihan. The fifteen minute episode includes a number of pop culture-driven set pieces such as "Whodya Rather" in which the guest chooses between two celebrities they would prefer to see perform a designated task. Another routine, "Tweet of the Moment" explores weird celebrity Twitter tweets of the past week. Another segment is titled "Non Sexual Fantasy," which is pretty much self-explanatory. And because it is on the Web, the series makes a point of its uncensored nature. No bleeps allowed.
Does this all add up to watchable Web TV? Well, not yet. At 15 minutes an episode, Portable Lounge is shorter than a TV series but perhaps is not quite short enough for the lean-in Web. We found ourselves wishing for sharper cuts and a compressed version at about half the size. It begs the question whether the formats of TV really can be stretched for Web consumption. As much as Web viewers have embraced some kinds of longer form episodic time-shifted viewing, that doesn't necessarily mean all living room genres port well here without a rethink.
"Portable Lounge" will be recorded in a range of locales. The inaugural show took place in a bowling alley. The series is being sponsored primarily by SoBe, which has the first pre-roll spot. Mid-roll spots from other Comedy Central advertisers also appear during one of the two mid-show breaks.