Telemundo Debuts Late-Night Talk Show

The Nov. 29 premiere episode of Telemundo’s new late-night comedy, Más Vale Tarde, might not have broken ratings records but it did break an important barrier: Its host, Cuban-American comedian Alex Cambert, kept switching between English and Spanish, something of an oddity in Hispanic broadcast television.

The hour-long show kicked off with a surprise appearance by the controversial Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who paid the host a quick visit to wish him luck with the show. “He is the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in 133 years,” Cambert informed the audience. “The previous one was interviewed by Don Francisco,” he said, referring to his Univision counterpart, the septuagenarian host of Sábado Gigante.

Más Vale Tarde, which is taped in front of a live audience at Universal’s City Walk studios, kicked off with a Jay Leno-like stand up routine, with Cambert commenting on some of the week’s news, including Jennifer Lopez’s pregnancy and Britney Spears’s latest troubles. And though the host made a good display of showmanship, he warned the audience about this being his first venture in late-night television: “This is my first time, so don’t be surprised if I finish in one minute and you end up dissatisfied.” He went further: “I feel like Lindsey Lohan buying candy … or Luis Miguel opening up a condom.”

Jokes aside, the host of Más Vale Tarde engaged the audience with an odd mix of American and Latin-American pop culture, something that was made evident by the guest lineup: Immediately after an all Spanish-language interview with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, the host switched to English to bring out actor Eric Roberts, who was subjected to a segment called “15 segundos con un gringo” (“15 seconds with a gringo”), in which the host fired a series of quick questions regarding Latin food, countries and pop culture. The interview segments were capped by musical performances by Mexican-American ensemble Cruz Martinez and Los Super Reyes, and upcoming Argentine singer José González.

Citing preliminary Nielsen data, Telemundo said the premiere of Más Vale Tarde was watched by 185,000 adults 18-49, improving the time slot by 67% compared to November 2007, and 60% compared to December 2006. Total viewers averaged 316,000.