Ivan Urgant, the host of several Russian TV programs, speaks Russian super-fast and quick-wittedly, and English pretty well. He loves all the American late-night shows, especially what he calls «the East Coast guys» — David Letterman and Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallen and Stephen Colbert and Conan O’Brien (whom he still considers an East Coast guy, even though Conan’s show moved to Los Angeles). In Moscow, he keeps up with them all on the Web.
Not long ago, Urgant came to New York with his wife and seven colleagues to visit some of these shows and meet the stars and producers and writers and learn from them, because he wants to start a late-night show of his own, possibly to be called «Vecherniy Urgant» («Evening Urgant»).
How was his week in the city? «Tough,» he said, sitting at a table for ten in a restaurant on Fifty-second Street at two o’clock on a Sunday morning, after he and his companions had been in the audience for an on-air performance of «Saturday Night Live.» «This week was too many meetings, too many informations, too much wine, no sleep, impossible schedule,» he continued. «But it was the greatest week I ever have in my life up to this time. Right now, for example, as I am sitting here I see at that next table Lome Michaels, a legend. ’S. N. L.,’ ’Conan,’ ’30 Rock’ (which I think is brilliant, the most funny thing during the last years) — it’s all because of this producer, Lome Michaels, I am silting here trying not to go over and kiss him on the lips.»
Urgant wore a blue blazer, a shirt with a pattern of small blue and white checks, and a reddish bow tie. His brown hair was moussed into small points. He is thirty-three, frank-faced, handsome, and one metre ninety-two centimetres tall — around six-three. By his estimate, that is four centimetres shorter than Sergei Dovlatov, the writer, who is one of his heroes. «Dovlatov was die greatest writer, I love him and I know everything about him. He lived in Queens and he is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, in Flushing, and I have visited his grave. My other hero is Joseph Brodsky, greatest modern Russian poet.» Here Urgant recited by heart a poem Brodsky wrote to Roman Kaplan, the proprietor of Russian Samovar, a midtown restaurant, when Brodsky missed Kaplan’s birthday party. «Both Dovlatov and Brodsky were from the city where I grew up, Leningrad-St. Petersburg, and both became New Yorkers, so New York is my favorite American city. And my other hero, die funniest and best actor, is Alec Baldwin. I love the humor of these East Coast guys, because it is» — he consulted with his producer for the word — «it is more poisonous than the humor of California. That is not exactly what I mean, but it is close. Or, as someone at ’Letterman’ says, this humor is ’charmingly antagonistic’ — a better description. I know you guys, you Americans, pretty well, because I did a sixteen-part documentary film based on the book of Ilf and Petrov, famous Russian writers of humor, called ’Odnoetazhnaya Amerika,’ or ’One-Storied America,’ when they travelled across the U. S. A. in the thirties. To make this film, we went many places — Cleveland, Des Moines, Albuquerque. I was on a stage with Gwyneth Paltrow and she asked what our documentary was about and I told her and she said, ’Oh, like «Borat.»’
«In Russia, there are no late-night talk shows like in America. We do have talk shows, but in daytime, with three or four hosts. Our show will be at eleven-thirty, one half hour long, and only one host. It will be news commentary, humor, and guests — one and one half guests in every show. The half guests will be an interesting person who is not necessarily a celebrity. Our sponsors will be a tank factory, Kalashnikovs, and submarines. (This is not serious, but what an American will expect me to say.)
I am happy because everybody here was very helpful to us. I shook Jon Stewart’s hand! We are inspired by what we saw here! Before we came, we thought, for example, if you want to produce the best jeans you can go to a church and pray to God to help you produce jeans. But it is easier to go to the country where they produce these wonderful jeans and find out how they do this.»
Источник: The New Yorker от 30.01.2012