Friday Night! with Ralph Benmergui

Friday Night! with Ralph Benmergui was a Canadian television variety show, which aired on CBC Television from 1992 to 1993.[1] The show initially aired at 10 p.m., following Prime Time News,[2] but was moved to 11 p.m. in January 1993 and aired in the later time slot for the remainder of its run.[3]

Friday Night! with Ralph Benmergui
Presented byRalph Benmergui
Country of originCanada
No. of seasons2
Running time60 minutes
Original networkCBC Television
Original releaseOctober 30, 1992 –
December 31, 1993

The show debuted October 30, 1992, and was hosted by Ralph Benmergui, formerly of Midday. The house band, called simply "The House" and including musicians such as Matt Zimbel, Doug Wilde and Taborah Johnson, provided the music in the first season;[1] they were replaced in the second season by Look People, led by Jaymz Bee.[4] It was one hour long and had an American late-night talk show format: an opening monologue by Benmergui followed by comedy sketches, guest interviews, and musical performances.[5]

The show's primary goal was to highlight and promote emerging Canadian talent, although established celebrities also sometimes appeared.[6] Notable guests on the show included Céline Dion, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Barenaked Ladies and Don Cherry.

Although the show received strong ratings at first, with almost a million viewers for its premiere, it soon declined to less than half of its initial audience, representing only one-third of the audience that the CBC had in its timeslot the previous year.[7] The critics were not impressed, either; one segment featured real TV scribes reviewing the program, mostly unfavourably, while it was still in progress.

The first season aired its final episode on April 2, 1993, and was then followed by two "best of" specials featuring musical performances from prior episodes.[8] During the off-season, the show responded to its critical and audience reception by overhauling its production team;[9] production was ultimately taken over by comedian and Yuk Yuk's founder Mark Breslin.[10] Benmergui also refreshed his own personal style, adopting a hipper, more casual look instead of the loud patterned or shiny suits he had favoured in the first season,[11] and the original house band were dropped and replaced by The Look People.[4] The show also dropped Benmergui's opening monologue, instead using the opening slot to highlight a different stand-up comedian each week, and changed its format so that the show would centre on one feature interview each episode.[4]

The second season premiered in October 1993, but Breslin's changes failed to improve the program's critical reception or ratings.[12] The final episode of Friday Night! aired on December 31, 1993, and the program's cancellation was announced in the first week of January 1994.[13]

Benmergui subsequently moved to CBC Newsworld, hosting the afternoon talk show Benmergui Live. The CBC subsequently developed another variety series, Rita and Friends, which began airing in the fall of 1994.


  1. ^ a b Greg Quill, "Friday Night! at first glance". Toronto Star, November 3, 1992.
  2. ^ John Haslett Cuff, "Benmurgui sure to be a success: Friday Night with Ralph Benmergui is CBC's first talk show since the seventies". The Globe and Mail, November 6, 1992.
  3. ^ Tony Atherton, "CBC shuffles Kids, Friday Night! as part of latest programming switch". Ottawa Citizen, January 12, 1993.
  4. ^ a b c Tony Atherton, "For Benmergui show, the only way is up; Only thing the show has in common with last year's flop is the host". Montreal Gazette, October 8, 1993.
  5. ^ Bob Remington, "Laughing at politics (at last) with Mr. Friday Night". Edmonton Journal, November 5, 1992.
  6. ^ Wendy McCann, "Ralph Benmergui detests Canadian inferiority complex". Waterloo Region Record, October 30, 1992.
  7. ^ "Is it mission impossible for Benmergui?". Toronto Star, March 16, 1993.
  8. ^ Rita Zekas, "Ralph! keeps smiling through the brickbats". Toronto Star, March 21, 1993.
  9. ^ Greg Quill, "Rumors give Benmergui a good chance at renewal". Toronto Star, May 12, 1993.
  10. ^ Christopher Harris, "House cleaning on Friday Night! New producer drops band from Benmergui's show". The Globe and Mail, June 12, 1993.
  11. ^ "Ralphie, we hardly knew ye". The Globe and Mail, September 8, 1993.
  12. ^ Greg Quill, "Benmurgui's second debut a sorry, unintentional farce". Toronto Star, October 10, 1993.
  13. ^ "Hated by critics, CBC's Friday Night show killed". Victoria Times-Colonist, January 6, 1994.