Jake Sasseville keeps plowing down walls.
The 24-year-old comedian, who grew up in Lewiston, will begin a late-night syndicated talk show in 55 television markets tonight.
“Late Night Republic” will debut at 11:30 p.m. on WPME, the MyNetworkTV-affiliated station. It broadcasts on UHF channel 35 and can be seen on Time Warner cable channel 17 and in high definition on Time Warner channel 517.
“We’re pretty excited. It’s been a dream of this kid from Lewiston to do this for quite a while,” Sasseville said by phone from New York. “We want to create a republic that people can rally around. Until now, late night has been controlled by old white-haired executives in Burbank, Calif. I’ve gotten this far by taking a non-traditional approach. Who knows if it will work? But I think it will.”
“Late Night Republic” represents an evolution in Sasseville’s comedic heritage. He began his TV career when he was 14 with “The Edge with Jake Sasseville” on local access TV in Maine.
When he was 21, he bought air time on ABC affiliates across the country and launched “Jake After Jimmy” as a late-night alternative following “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” He paid for the show by selling sponsorships to national brands, including Ford and Overstock. He kept the show on the air for 15 months.
“Late Night Republic” is a new show with a familiar format. Sasseville will interview celebrities, comedians and musicians, and do social commentary and taped bits.
“With the new show, I have grown up a little bit,” he said. “The humor I used to have was indicative of the age I was at the time. I’m more mature now, and I wanted a show to reflect that.”
This week’s launch will air on Fox, The CW and MyNetwork TV affiliates.
Sasseville wants fans to suggest ideas for the show through his Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/latenightrepublic.
“We want to make people active producers. We found that we have an incredible amount of interactivity on Facebook,” he said. “I find some of the funniest people are in Portland, Minneapolis and Austin, not New York or L.A. We want to pull people into the republic and encourage them to become part of the republic.”
He bills himself as an underdog with championship dreams, and wants to build his audience by playing up his non-traditional approach to TV.
Sasseville films the show in New York. He plans to tour the country later this year, appearing in markets where the show is airing. He will be back in Maine in September or October for a rally to call attention to the show.
Folks who know him may not recognize him. Sasseville said he has lost about 100 pounds through a combination of diet and exercise.
“No one really wants a fat guy with a Maine accent to be on television,” he said. “I lost the weight, but I still have the accent.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: