Last fall, a UCF student by the name of Humberto Villena Abrill had the idea to start a late-night, student-run talk show, ToKnight’s the Night.
“It happened in three very quick weeks. It went from Humberto having the idea, to having a crew, then, all of a sudden, we were filming, which happened because of Humberto organizing very well,” said Megan Robinson, the show’s Web producer.
In that brief period of time when the show had only just seen its conceptual inception, the members of the show were assembled. A team of writers were gathered, with Avery Kuiper – who has since graduated from UCF – at the head of the writer’s panel.
Along with Kuiper, current producer and UCF senior Tiffany Gentry was recruited to work on the show.
“I was very interested in getting involved with an entertainment show since there wasn’t much offered in that area, so I started out as a segment producer for pre-recorded content and worked with other producers to get the show started,” Gentry said.
Chris Nielsen, UCF senior and the show’s host, was invited by Villena to an informational meeting for the show.
“I went to the meeting in this studio that I didn’t even know existed, and then it turned into an audition that I wasn’t really prepared for, but I’m glad that I took a chance on them and they took a chance on me, as it’s worked out,” Nielsen said.
The show has been entirely run by UCF students from its rudiments. With that in mind, its aesthetic is far from amateur. The solely collegiate crew has utilized UCF’s R-TV (radio-television) studio, which boasts a professional-grade facility with high-quality cameras and sound equipment.
“We have a fully functional studio, a CK wall – blue screen – with a full lighting grid, and a control room with a multi-view,” Robinson said.
Naturally, with the technological setting in top-notch working condition, there must be content to match.
“Obviously, we want to make people laugh, but we want to hold people’s attention and make sure that they’re entertained, because they can watch any late night show, but this is a more communal thing that shows students that something like this is tangible,” Nielsen expressed on the show’s exigence. “I want to give the audience something authentic, casual, funny and real.”
The show has thus far featured interviews with local stand-outs along with live musical performances. The creative team has drawn inspirations from a range of shows such as Conan, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, SNL, to The Office. One of the most recent guests on the show was 2016 Miss Miami-Dade, Crystal Ruiz. The show also recently compéred local rock band, Sweet Cambodia. However, such entertainment is not easily brought to fruition on a weekly basis.
“We have our show on Monday, our writer’s meeting on Tuesday, another one on Wednesday, a monologue meeting on Thursday, a production meeting on Friday, then usually on Saturday and Sunday we have our pre-recorded segments or skits shot and ready for Monday,” Robinson detailed on the constant cycle that culminates in the 30-minute live airing on Monday night. “At 6:59, counting down the 60 seconds, everything could go right or everything could go wrong, and it’s up to us to either recover or just roll through it."
Since ToKnight’s the Night first aired on Oct. 19, 2015, the show has garnered quite a bit of attention. The show has been fully booked by guest interviewees and musical acts for the remainder of this semester, which has led the show to extend its final episode into a one-hour block, in lieu of its usual 30-minute span.
ToKnight’s the Night has flourished since its debut, however, there is room for growth.
“We’d like to become more known in the UCF community and be able to branch out with different groups within UCF,” Robinson said. “My goal for ToKnight’s the Night is to make it a staple of UCF much like Knightly News.”
ToKnight’s the Night airs live on Monday nights at 7 p.m. in the RTV studio at the Nicholson School of Communication building, and can also be seen on NSC’s campus-wide channel (734) and YouTube channel.
Daniel Ceruti is contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.