The Chat Pack stage show was up and running and everything was falling into place for the multi-talented quartet. Not only were their weekend casino shows selling out, their morning talk show was rising faster than cranberry loaf in a 500 degree Wisconsin housewife’s oven.
Every morning show was an event and every casino show a memory.
Here’s how The American Log summed up the latest ratings for the Milwaukee viewing area that year….
MILWAUKEE, December 23 – In addition to their record-breaking 9 nominations for this weekend’s “Talk’o’Waukee Awards”, WLKE-TV3’s Milwaukee Talk has risen to number one in the ratings for the year 2002, the first time the venerable show has done that since 1998 when longtime chitty-chat ringleader Vic Shell was paired with his then-wife, April Mae June.
The success comes on the coattails of the popular live weekend “Chat Pack” variety show at the Ballast Casino and Events Center, hosted by the Milwaukee Talk stars and their friends.
“We’re a quintuple threat. We’ve got singing, dancing, comedy and current affairs. What else could anyone ask for?” mused co-host Mary Margaret.
“Our show is just like a happy hour except that it lasts two hours!” states stand-up blue comedian Les Tremaine.
“There isn’t a corner of Wisconsin that doesn’t know about us now,” exec producer Allen Kew declares.
Mr. Kew has the ratings to back it up. Milwaukee Talk has a 52 share of the viewing audience. Morning Grind on channel 7 has a 9 share, tied with The Rosie O’Donnell Show on channel 2. The Jenny Jones Show on channel 22 finished last with 1.5 share or 15,000 viewers. With numbers like that, phenomena wouldn’t be considered an exaggeration.
The mood was jovial at “The Press Club”, a little dive bar around the corner from WLKE studios that only serves beer, spirits and pickled eggs although this afternoon it also served as a pit stop for the Milwaukee Talk crew as they took some time to celebrate their top notch nod.
The Chat Pack were on top of their game. The #1 rated talk show by morning and #1 casino show by night.
“The w-w-w-work was endless,” a gummi-bear spewing and stuttering Allen Kew once told The American Log.
“It was a mid-nightly occurrence to see us out at all hours and in all kinds of conditions,” Vic Shell admits.
“It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun,” Mary Margaret explains.
How much fun?
“So much fun I was out one night around 1 AM and some fans caught me in the act”, Les Tremaine revealed to a shocked American Log. “In my comedy act that is! Why? What kind of act were you thinking? Oh! You guys!! You guys are bad!!!!”
A superfan of Tremaine’s was lucky enough to catch him practicing his craft one night a local comedy bar. The appearance also speaks volumes about Tremaine’s character given it was mere weeks after a bizarre accident on the Milwaukee Talk set that saw Les lose a vital appendage…but more on that in a coming episode. In the meantime, here’s a clip of Les being caught in the act…. his comedy act that is…!