HBO’s Pause with Sam Jay turns the stuffy late-night talk show into a party

Photo: HBO / WarnerMedia

There’s a quality that some long-running chat podcasts have that can feel like a brick wall for new listeners. Existing relationships, in-jokes, and context that friends and co-hosts have are additional barriers to feeling like you’re a part of the conversation. The casual hangout and chat format is tantalizing for its naturalism, but it also comes with parasocial relationships as baggage. Which makes HBO’s new late-night project, Pause with Sam Jay, so intriguing. It has hangout podcasts in its DNA, but it’s also out to reinvent a decades-old late-night format.

Pause is co-created by Sam Jay, stand-up comedian and Saturday Night Live writer, and Prentice Penny, showrunner and executive producer of Insecure. It feels fresh for some…

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