Steve Patterson takes on late-night (sort of) with The Smartass-ociates

“People still want Canada to have a late-night Tonight Show type broadcast, but I’m not interested in doing that,” Steve Patterson says. “I would be more interested in doing a show where you actually learn something while you’re watching.” He’s got it with The Smartass-ociates,
Patterson’s newest project currently streaming on CBC’s website.

Patterson has been told for years that he should be doing a  late-night program but balked. That’s understandable. Mike Bullard tried to do it a couple of times with a certain amount of success, but Canadians never really supported a homegrown take on the U.S. late-night model. It wasn’t until The Colbert Report came along that Patterson saw something that would work here: a show where he could interview somebody with something to say other than the entertainment project they’re working on. Enter The Smartass-ociates, a co-production with Mountain Road Productions—who worked with Patterson on I Wrecked My House—where experts in different areas are paired with a comic to sit down to discuss various topics with Patterson as host and moderator.

Filmed last year in Ottawa, Season 1 guests pull from a wide range of interests. Episode 1, for instance, features the Honourable Lisa Raitt and comedian DeAnne Smith discussing the U.S. election and the difference between Canadian and American politics. Episode 6 boasts Olympic speed skater—and gold medal winner—Ivanie Blondin and comic Dave Hemstad discussing misogyny in sports coverage of female Olympic athletes. Rather than debating topics—something Patterson has nailed on The Debaters—these are frank conversations that educate as much as entertain. Blondin, in particular, stood out to me for her thoughtful first-hand account of misogyny, and her humour.

“She turned out to be one of our best guests and was one of our last bookings,” Patterson says with a laugh. “She was so honest about everything. I wouldn’t make it a habit of telling the rival of a guest to go f–k themselves, but it came about very organically.”

With Season 1 currently available online, Patterson’s ultimate goal is to have The Smartass-
 become a weekly television series on CBC where he discusses current topics, similar to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. Ideally, he wants to do it within this calendar year.

“I want to get into the meat of news topics with people and introduce Canada to as many of my funny Canadian friends as possible,” he says. “Let’s learn something and let’s laugh while we’re learning. Let’s prove what comedians have to offer when they literally come to the table on some of these topics.”

Watch Season 1 of The Smartass-ociates on CBC’s website.