The Early Evening Show, Mike Miclon’s spoof of a Late-Night talk-Show will be stream live over the internet on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Mike Miclon

For two decades, one of the running joke about Mike Miclon’s Early Evening Show is that it’s the greatest show not on TV.

Thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic, that’s about to change.

On March 28, Miclon, the artistic executive director of the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center in Gardiner, will bring the quarantine edition of his long-running variety show to a screen near you via livestream.

Starting at 7 p.m. and running for 90 minutes, the spoof of late-night talk shows will bring live performances and music to people wherever they are.

“To me,” Miclon said last week, “this is an opportunity for us to still feel connected as people, and that’s what art and performance do, and what we try to do at Johnson Hall.”

The idea came to Miclon as he was canceling Johnson Hall’s scheduled season through May, and as performers everywhere were seeing their gigs evaporate for the foreseeable future because of efforts to contain the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

The Mallett Brothers had been scheduled to perform March 14 at Johnson Hall, and the show was sold out. At that time, public health officials were discouraging gatherings of more than 250 people. The Studio Theater at Johnson Hall holds about 125, which was below that threshold.

Miclon was considering whether to cancel when the Mallett Brothers reached out. With four upcoming shows, band members would be exposed to about a thousand people in three days, and they decided to pull the plug themselves.

“This is story after story after story of all my performer friends,” Miclon said. “Boom. Done.”

Jason Tardy is one of those friends. Tardy is a juggler whose high-energy juggling and offbeat humor have been featured on the Early Evening Show, and whose bookings this spring had included schools.

“I just heard from one of my kids that schools are closed until April 27,” Tardy, of Auburn, said.

A number of those schools have already paid him, and have said they’d like to have him appear in the future, he said, but that’s only part of his work.

When Miclon asked him to take part, he said yes.

While he’s not sure what he’ll do, Tardy said he’s been working on a routine that involves dropping a bowling ball onto a trampoline to bounce it into a juggling rotation.

The bowling balls have been donated and are different sizes, he said, so it’s a bit of challenge. But with no audience, no one in the front rows will be at risk from flying objects.

“It’s going to be an epic show,” Miclon said. “Basically, we’re going to be supporting artists and supporting what we do. Hopefully, if we can get it, we should be able to get an enormous audience, because what the hell else do people have to do?”

The show, the first Miclon created,  debuted in 1998 in the Oddfellow Theater in Buckfield and later moved to the Celebration Barn; nearly every show has been sold out.

“It is — and I’ll say this until someone proves me wrong — the longest-running live variety show in the state of Maine,” he said.

Over the years, it has also attracted a number of nationally known musicians like John Gorka and Jonathan Edwards. It has also drawn others that went on to attract national followings, including Ray LaMontagne. It has also caught the attention of regional and national media, like Yankee Magazine and CBS Sunday Morning.

For Saturday’s show, Oren Robinson and April Reed-Cox, the Early Evening Show Orchestra, will perform, as will Fritz Grobe, of Diet Coke and Mentos fame, Guitar Man Samuel James and Shane and Collin Miclon.

Tickets start at $15. That’s good for the whole household.

Miclon said other ticket levels are available: Art benefactor at $25, art angel at $50, and art mega supreme awesome lover at $100.

There are also options to tip performers and the theater.

“This is about connections,” Miclon said, “and it just happens to be about your internet connection. You can still see us, and we’ll make you laugh and write funny jokes, and we’re going to laugh right in the face of this.”


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