At 10 p.m. on Thursday nights, it’s prime time for Charlie Visconage, an improv actor who’s started his own D.C.-themed talk show inspired by vintage-era episodes of “The Tonight Show.” The weekly show launched this winter and it brings in “celebrities” from the local arts scene, intercut with sketches. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

While many of the people out in Adams Morgan at 10 p.m. on a Thursday are heading into bars, a small crowd is choosing to catch a little live theater.

A new production that launched this winter reprises the idea of old-school late-night talk shows -- think Jack Paar on “The Tonight Show.” Staged weekly at the intimate D.C. Arts Center, “The Charlie Visconage Show” stars a handful of quick-on-their feet area improv actors — including the Conan-esque host for whom the show is named. There’s an opening monologue, a quirky musician and even a comedian to warm up the crowd. It’s just like a TV show, until it veers hilariously off track.

The guests are artsy locally plugged-in guests, including Mark Ruppert, who founded the 48 Hour Film Project and once hosted a similar late-night live show; S.M. Shrake, head of the Story League; and Julianne Brienza. Musical acts have included Vox Pop and Paperhaus.

Where the show’s guests are real, however, most everything else is simply zany fun — so much so that it’s hard to tell whether “The Charlie Visconage Show” is an homage to the Jay Lenos and David Lettermans of the world or a sendup.

Interested? Go see tonight’s episode, featuing James Alefantis, the restaurater behind Comet Ping Pong, rapper Born Infinite, and comedy from Akilah Green.

Check out some photos from a recent show.


Each “episode” of the show features a musical guest. Musician W. Ellington Felton was one of the early guests. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

Host Charlie Visconage was inspired by a book about late-night shows. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)