1. Reveal what you are being paid
Get it over with and just announce how much you’re getting paid at the start of your first show. We’re going to find out anyway, and whatever it is, we won’t like it. You should make a feature of it, sporadically announcing how much you just earned, broken down by the hour. Bring a calculator. Pump your fist and say “Ka-ching!”, right there and then, as Twink is telling an interesting anecdote about her dog.
2. Beware the partitionist mentality
Dubliners simply aren’t accustomed to a non-Dubliner hosting The Late Late Show. It will be a shock initially. Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy were as Dublin as Old Mr Brennan or coddle or the duke of Wellington (respectively). Dubliners struggle with non-Dublin accents and any suggestion that there is life in the wasteland beyond the M50. They will send angry letters of complaint to this paper. “Why is a Frenchman hosting this nation [Dublin]’s flagship chatshow?” they will write. Go easy on them. They think the guests on the Late Late country special are Spanish students.
3. Luxuriate in the Late Late country special
Cry “These are my people!” as the studio fills with horny-handed folk of the soil clutching the simple stringed instruments, regional-development plans and cans of Lilt beloved of the provincial peasantry. It was customary for Ryan Tubridy to don a Stetson while promoting this episode of the show, but, as you’ll be wearing a cowboy costume every week, for this one you can just lie on the floor wearing a dressing gown and yelling “This is my jam!” whenever the mood takes you.
4. Do not overfish for guests in the RTÉ canteen
At times it will seem as if it is bountiful with God’s rich creation, an ecosystem of anecdote-wielding daytime-TV presenters, newsreaders, weather folk and children’s puppeteers. You’ll chortle heartily to yourself as you wander about there in flippers and a snorkel while clutching a harpoon. It feels as if it would be no harm to just dip a net in and luxuriate in fishy celebrity. But by Christmas those once-teeming waters will be depleted, the coral dying, and you’ll be asking audio technicians about their boom-mike technique on live television. In fairness, there have been worse guests. And if the interview is boring, it will be fine. No one will be able to hear it.
5. Treat all celebrities equally
The guest quality may vary from week to week. It could be Jamie Lee Curtis or it could be some lad who got a bargain in the sales, but you must beam the force of your love and attention equally on both. Practise using the same intonation to say “Tell me about your Oscar win” and “What was the parking like in town that day?” Never mutter “For Christ’s sake” under your breath. That’s our job.
6. Search the Late Late desk for notes from Ryan
“There is no more money,” for example. There might even be some journals that will help you acclimatise to life at RTÉ. “Day 1,756: Ronan Keating, Sharon Ní Bheoláin and Socky are on this evening. Today we ate the second assistant cameraman. We weren’t hungry, just bored. When will this nightmare end? Day 1,757: We ate Socky. He was mainly cloth, but at his core there was the most curious thing: a man’s arm. Added chips from the canteen. Now feel overfull. Lord, release me from this torment!”
7. Never have Ryan Tubridy as a guest
This is another important power move. It doesn’t matter what he does next – run for president, overthrow the president, pioneer nuclear fusion, promise to show you an alternative route to Mordor – you must stand your ground. “It’s my show now, Ryan. All mine!” you can say. “My precious!” Tubridy will cry before slinking back into the damned shadows from whence he came (Monkstown). The show is your possession, and no one can take it from you.
8. Calibrate your approach to the Toy Show carefully
Gay was paternalistic. Pat was startled. Ryan was frenetic. You could go maverick and simply abolish the Toy Show, on the night, while all the kids are waiting to go on. “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?” you can say as the audience file out of the studio, the crew dismantle the set and children wail. This would be a ballsy move, the equivalent of picking a fight with the biggest guy in the prison yard. We might not like it, but we’ll respect you for it. And nobody will mess with you after that.
9. Bring back audience poetry
In Gay’s time it was common for him to go into the audience, where a pair of sisters from Athlone or Bundoran or Fermoy would chant a poem in monotonous unison. The poem was usually about getting to go on a train and seeing Dublin and being in the Late Late Show audience and meeting Gay Byrne. It was quite a literal poem with a blunt rhyming scheme and little subtext (just 800 years of occupation/theocratic rule/the tyranny of prawn-cocktail starters), but this was what people had in lieu of TikTok or vitamin D in those dark days. You could initiate the return of this phenomenon but bring it up to date by shouting “For the last time, I’m not Gay Byrne!” when the poem is finished, to which the audience at home will nod in sad agreement.
10. Don’t force the audience to clap along in time
It is a beloved tradition that when some old crooner hits the Late Late Show couch with a guitar, the audience clap along in their own very particular way. They prefer to experiment with the complex polyrhythms of Xenakis or Reich rather than hit the two and four of the bar. Of course, it’s also possible that there’s a gas leak in the studio and their fine motor skills have been affected. I don’t care. I love it. I always try dancing to it. Please don’t teach them a four-four beat. Don’t fix the gas leak. It is said that if the Late Late Show audience ever nail a simple four-four beat, time will stop and Ragnarök will be upon us.
When Ragnarök is upon us, the line-up for The Late Late Show will be Nathan Carter; Marty Morrissey; Odin, All-Father king of the gods; and Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh. Marty Morrissey will be on at the end of the night. Odin All-Father will be somewhere in the middle, and he will be forced to clap along to Nathan Carter. He will largely be asked his opinions on local Irish townlands, and he will have an anecdote about tasting Guinness. For this is your life now, Patrick Kielty, the life you chose.
The Late Late Show is on RTÉ One at 9.35pm tonight