Produced by Evil Global Corporation, Goodnight Burbank is the brainchild of creator and executive producer Hayden Black. A CAA-repped writer for MTV, CNN, and other cable outlets, Black wanted to be an actor – so he wrote for himself the role of (fictional) news anchor “Gordon Winston-Smythe” and began airing his critically–acclaimed parody of the nightly news on March 16, 2006. On Goodnight Burbank, Black’s politically thoughtful, mild-mannered, English-accented “Gordon” plays opposite Shulie Cowen (previously played by Jamie Denbo, who moved onto the short-lived Fox sitcom “Happy Hour”) as the high-strung, politically conservative co-anchor “Kelly Jones.” The cast also includes third lead Angela Espinosa as ditzy weather anchor “Trisha Yakamoto,” plus John Schaffer, Wendy Rosoff and Eve Savona – actors who mostly hail from LA-based improv troupes like the Upright Citizens Brigade and Improv Olympics. GNB is just the first in a series of comedy podcasts planned by Black’s Evil Global Corp., whose mission is to “subvert with humor.”
Goodnight Burbank episodes are released roughly two to four times a month and take viewers to a fictional Burbank TV newsroom where “breaking news” is delivered by “broken reporters” in a parody of the traditional 11 o’clock newscast. GNB’s scripted comedy uses actual news headlines (and sometimes photos) to kick start Gordon and Susan’s barbed, satirical banter on current affairs. The characters’ on-air riffs are punctuated by off-air comic antics and frequent clashes. Gordon pushes Susan’s buttons with witty snipes at her home life, hormone-hyped Susan bites back, Lesbian sportscaster Sam Jenkins puts the moves on Trisha, and the Make-Up Girl gives inappropriate set direction. The result is a funny but edgy portrait of what can happen when reporters go from “pretty to pretty dysfunctional.” Fans of the show can find fictional bios of the GNB characters, GNB merchandise for sale, critics’ reviews, behind-the-scenes show photos; and links to sources for actual Burbank news.
Episode 5 includes a truly funny homage to Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” routine. When Susan confuses “Who?” with Chinese President Hu and “What?” with Congressman Watt, the fast-flying repartee is genuinely hilarious. Another high point is the start of Episode 1, where Susan makes Gordon blanche with (off-screen) photos of her Caesarean section and of her baby breast-feeding. This is classic shtick on sexual politics – and works better than much of GNB’s more direct political satire.