Why you should care

Because late-night shows should all be this funny.

He nearly lost his manhood to a laser and tried kissing Colin Farrell … and the season’s only half over.

“The Chinese premier stayed the night at Buckingham Palace,” Graham Norton says, pointing at a photo of Her Majesty and Xi Jinping to responding “oohs” from the audience. “Stop that, nothing happened,” he chides, noting how the queen has taken only one man to her bed chamber: James Bond. He’s referring to the famous spy’s Olympic entrance with Elizabeth II, which was their way of launching the 2012 Games and his way of kicking off a talk show with Daniel Craig.

You might try it for the stellar guests, but you’ll stay for the hilarious host.

 

The Graham Norton Show is Britain’s Friday-night answer to Johnny Carson, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, all wrapped up in a gay Irish comedian and his signature glass of white wine. Norton is irreverent and risqué, and he always gets the best guests. Much like earlier incarnations of his Friday-night show, including V Graham Norton and So Graham Norton, this program, on the BBC since 2007, has drawn the likes of everyone from Maggie Smith to Justin Bieber — the dame and the Canadian pop star even appeared in the same episode.

Festivities get started much like other comedian-helmed talk shows, with a lighthearted monologue often involving a celebrity guest. But Norton’s interviews offer cleverly sewn narratives that stretch across all three to five guests sitting — drinks in hand — on his big red sofa. The writers clearly do their research, delving into the minutiae of guests’ childhoods, gaffes and early careers.

So rather than just discussing recent film releases, Norton gets guests talking about their pasts. A nickname theme reveals Meryl Streep’s real name is Mary and Nicole Kidman’s Hawaiian birth name is Hokulani. A focus on youthful indiscretions lifts the lid on Rachel Weisz’s naughty teenage years as well as Chris O’Dowd’s babysitting skills as a teen: He was outed by his former charge on the show for having let the kid destroy the house and cut his siblings’ hair. The cost of fame gets Bradley Cooper joking about being able to sense when paparazzi are around — like the time his trousers drooped as he bent over to pick up his dog. He just knew he would hear that click, and he did, finding the butt-crack snap online hours later — a photo Norton happily shares amid giggles.

The final segments include a musical number and a hot seat–style interaction with an audience member. The civilian tells an intriguing true-life tale in a bid to “walk” but risks being dumped from the chair by a lever in Norton’s hot little hands.

You might try it for the stellar guests, but you’ll stay for this hilarious host. The show airs Fridays in Britain and Saturdays on BBC America, and you can enjoy it, unlike some in his audience, without any risk of being thrown from your seat.

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