Back in 2012, someone at KDOC-TV, an independent television station in Orange County, was trying to figure out a new and unique way to welcome the new year. The major networks had their own spectaculars set up for the new year, with live shots from Times Square and big-time celebrity hosts. What could a little independent station do to compete with that?
Two words: Jamie Kennedy.
Why not bring in stand-up comedian and occasional actor Jamie Kennedy to host the station’s New Year’s special and hopefully bring his own “unique” style of comedy to the proceedings?
Kennedy was hired and the show that he hosted went on to become infamous far beyond Los Angeles. Featuring a myriad of technical issues, problematic humor, and even a fight that broke out on stage during the closing credits, First Night With Jamie Kennedy has since regularly been cited as one of the worst shows of all time. Patton Oswalt talks about in his stand-up. Nathan Rabin wrote an entire article about it. First Night has become a legendary disaster.
What happened during First Night that made it such a surreal disaster? Let us count the ways.
The mics often did not work when they were supposed to and the suddenly came on whenever nearby was uttering an expletive.
The crews’ walkie-talkies failed early, which meant that Kennedy was often not aware of when he was on camera and when he wasn’t. There were frequent shots of Kennedy standing on the stage, looking miserable and obviously wondering how he had gone from Scream to hosting First Night. At one point, when Stu Stone was interviewing Shannon Elizabeth, the camera lingered on an abject-looking Jamie Kennedy.
Along with making jokes about “Asian rappers,” Kennedy also appeared in comedy skit where he played a Mayan chief at a casino.
Macy Gray performed a song while appearing to be under the influence of something.
The countdown started late, so by 2013 had already arrived by the time the crowd hit zero.
Kennedy awkwardly hit on two drunk girls, one of whom resolved to “get rid of all my haters.” Kennedy told two girls (who were both black) a joke about what happens when you “go white.”
As if the night could not get bad enough, there was skit featuring puppets making lewd jokes.
And, of course, A FIGHT BROKE OUT DURING THE END CREDITS!
As the legend of First Night spread, Kennedy said that it was supposed to be bad and a parody of a typical network TV new year’s special. Sure, Jamie, we believe you.
The entirety of the show has been uploaded to YouTube. It’s not pretty and it’s not great but it is a Moment in Television History!
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