January 11, 2015

Maybe some things that happen in Brooklyn should stay in Brooklyn. And before you assail me for my highfalutin Manhattan attitude, admit that we now have a reverse-snobbery situation, where Brooklyn dwellers sniff in umbrage at the interlopers who clog the L train in a frantic clamor to visit the latest white-hot restaurant in Williamsburg. In any case, Ike at Night, a gentle sendup of an old-school late-night talk show, hosted by Ikechukwu Ufomadu, strikes me as an entertainment better suited to its original home, the Jack performing arts space in Clinton Hill, than it is to the Public Theater, where it has been imported as part of the Under the Radar festival. It left the British woman sitting beside me befuddled. “Perhaps it’s a cultural thing,” she said during one of the fake commercial breaks. Well, probably. You would need to be familiar with chat shows like The Tonight Show of Johnny Carson vintage to recognize the format that Mr. Ufomadu is paying amiable, tongue-just-grazing-cheek homage to. The set winks at tradition: plain wooden desk, microphone, cheesy curtains through which guests arrive, fake cityscape in the background, an Ed McMahon figure sitting like a potted plant. (This character is credited as Sidekick, and played with a sheepish smile, a ready nod-and-chuckle and minimal speech by B. Brian Argotsinger.) The applause sign above the set flashes when guests arrive or we return from a “commercial break.” It’s all cutely gimcrack, however, and a D.J. spinning vintage vinyl (“A Lot of Livin’ To Do,” from “Bye Bye Birdie”) must stand in for the live band. Still, the only major appurtenances missing are cameras.