|Starring||Gonzalo Le Batard|
Dan Le Batard
Bomani Jones (2013-2017)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Production location(s)||Miami Beach, Florida|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original network||ESPN2 (2011-2015)|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||September 12, 2011 -|
|Related shows||Pardon the Interruption|
Highly Questionable (stylized as ¿Highly Questionable?; abbreviated HQ) is a daily sports talk television program on ESPN. Created as a vehicle for Miami Herald sportswriter and ESPN contributor Dan Le Batard, who also hosts his own radio show for the network, the show premiered on September 12, 2011. It airs on weekdays at 4:30 PM Eastern and then repeats later at 5:30 on ESPN2 as well as throughout the night on ESPNews.
From its premiere until May 10, 2013, the show bore Le Batard's name and was called Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable (DLHQ), and from its premiere until March 23, 2015 the show aired on ESPN2. The program is based in Le Batard's hometown of Miami, Florida, and produced via satellite in Washington, D.C.. It was created by the same people behind Pardon the Interruption (PTI), which Le Batard has appeared on multiple times as a substitute host.
The show is hosted by Le Batard. His father, Gonzalo "Papi" Le Batard, was his daily co-host until November 2019; after taking a 3-month break, Papi now makes occasional appearances. Bomani Jones also co host for 5 years until his departure and since 2017 a rotating guest has served as a second co-host. The arrangement became necessary after Bomani Jones, who joined the show in 2013, relocated to New York to co-host High Noon with Pablo S. Torre. Highly Questionable emanates from ESPN's studio at the Clevelander Hotel in South Beach, where Le Batard's radio program also is broadcast. Previously the show taped at a studio set in suburban Miami designed to resemble a stereotypical Miami kitchen. As a nod to the previous set, a bowl filled with plastic fruit is always on the table where the hosts sit.
The show was announced on August 19, 2011, as a creative project between Dan Le Batard and the producers of Pardon the Interruption. The show, and the introduction of Le Batard's father Gonzalo to the project, was part of an effort by ESPN to attract more Latino viewers.DLHQ premiered on Monday September 12, 2011 at 4:00 PM Eastern. Beginning in 2012, other ESPN personalities including Bomani Jones and Bill Simmons appeared as contributors to the show.
On May 13, 2013, Le Batard got a second co-host when frequent guest Bomani Jones, who had been based in North Carolina, joined the now-renamed Highly Questionable. In June 2017, Le Batard said that was the moment the show found its footing, as Jones' addition helped it gain enough viewers to avoid what was considered to be a near certain cancellation.
In May 2017, ESPN announced that Jones would leave HQ in June 2017 while a new show featuring him and Pablo S. Torre (titled High Noon) was developed. His last show was on Thursday, June 22, 2017, and he received an emotional send off from both of his colleagues. Since then, the show has employed a variety of co-hosts as opposed to a permanent replacement for Jones.
Throughout its run, Highly Questionable has needed to employ guest hosts whenever Le Batard is unavailable, such as when he took time off for his wedding and honeymoon. Jon "Stugotz" Weiner, Le Batard's radio co-host, would frequently fill a slot, as would Miami-based journalists like Israel Gutierrez.
Guest hosts became a permanent fixture for the show after Jones left; some of the more frequently seen guests included Amin Elhassan, Sarah Spain, Mina Kimes, Pablo S. Torre, and Domonique Foxworth among various others.
Beginning during football season in 2019 Monday programs began carrying a football-centric series of topics, featured Le Batard and Papi broadcasting from Miami and two guest contributors. Usually these spots would be filled by Domonique Foxworth, who joined via satellite from Washington, and Mina Kimes, who joined via satellite from Los Angeles.
In November 2019, Papi took a leave of absence from Highly Questionable in order to get some rest; Le Batard said that after working non-stop for over 50 years it was time for him to take a break. His role was filled by the show's producer, who would ask the questions before each segment. Papi returned to the show on January 31, 2020, and Le Batard said that he would show up whenever he felt like doing so.
Since November 2019, most of the guest hosts appear via satellite instead of in studio; for example, Torre, Jones, and Katie Nolan appear from ESPN's studio complex at the South Street Seaport, Foxworth and Clinton Yates appear from Washington, and Sarah Spain appears from her native Chicago.
The original set for the show was located in Hialeah, Florida just outside of Miami. The set was designed to resemble a 1950s-era Miami/Cuban kitchen, in the spirit of a television sitcom. The set also featured old Le Batard family photos.
In late summer, 2014, the show moved to a new set on the second floor of the Clevelander Hotel in Miami's South Beach. The new studio is designed as a more conventional set, while retaining Miami-themed colors, and featuring a window looking out to South Beach. The new set premiered on September 8, 2014. The Clevelander studios are also used for Le Batard's radio program as well as serving as the home for Miami-based panelists on Around the Horn.
The show is broken into 4 segments. Each segment utilizes a question-answer format, with questions for the non-guest segments coming from fans. Each show begins with Le Batard introducing the panel, Jones offering a pithy commentary on one of the discussion topics, and Le Batard telling his father "vamos, Papi," (or more recently "dale, Papi") which kicks off the show.
A series of viewer submitted questions begin the proceedings. Papi reads each of them from an Apple iPad in front of him when papi doesn't the producer ask the question, and Le Batard and Jones each take turns addressing the audience with their takes while Papi chimes in with a random non sequitur. Occasionally, Dan and Papi sometimes find questions humorous or ignorant enough in nature to the point where they are not worth answering, and just simply laugh instead. Once in awhile, Papi will say something completely ridiculous and potentially damaging; when he does this, a technical difficulty bumper will play for several seconds and Le Batard will prompt Papi to apologize.
On certain Mondays, particularly during the National Football League regular season, the "Questions" segment will continue into the second segment.
During the second segment, a pretaped interview with a guest airs. The questions are usually related to a current issue or event in sports, and Dan and Bomani often ask about the guest's life outside of sports. Papi asks the final question, usually about topics unrelated to sports.
On days when no guest is available, one of several things will happen. One of "Papi's famous interview medleys", with highlights from past interviews shown, might play or a second set of questions might be asked. "Do You Question" (see below) may also serve as the second segment, and more and more frequently does serve that purpose.
The third segment is essentially a repeat of the first segment, and is introduced by Jones by saying, "you give us topics and events, we question 'em." The only difference is that they begin with "Do you question..." and often feature humorous video clips that do not necessarily have anything to do with sports.
The final segment of the show relates to television programming. The three hosts are given the name of a program airing that evening and offer their opinions on whether or not they are intrigued. Each responds with "Sí" or "No" while holding up a placard with his response. Most of the programs are sports related but at least one is a general interest program such as a documentary or reality program such as The Bachelor, which Le Batard hates and leaves the set whenever it is featured. Papi has the on-show reputation for responding "Sí, sí, I'm very intrigued!" to just about everything and often comes up with odd reasons for doing so, such as a team with a "Latino player" (sometimes an actual Latino player, but other times one with a Spanish-sounding name or even one he completely makes up, like "Miguel Verde" or "Bernardo Bishopo") who is going to have a "helluva game" or who will be a "name you'll never forget" (which he promptly forgets), or humorous misunderstandings of the shows in question.
One of the show's most frequently used running gags is the Banana Phone, where Papi imitates a ringing telephone and picks up the banana out of the plastic fruit bowl to (pretend to) speak to someone on the other end. To further the gag a cord is attached to the banana.
Usually, Papi calls his bookie "Juanito" and tells him to "put everything" on the team he thinks will win. Juanito takes bets on virtually any sporting event known to man, from the America's Cup to middle school basketball. Papi is also known to thank Juanito for a tip he allegedly gave him or implying that he had a role in a certain event's outcome, including horses crashing at the finish line of a race, or other bloopers.
In more recent episodes the gag has expanded to having Papi pretend to speak to other people besides Juanito. During the 2017 NBA playoffs, Papi frequently received "calls" from Fred Hoiberg, the head coach of the Chicago Bulls who complained frequently about traveling calls not being made against Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics; to this effect, Hoiberg always "phones in" when he believes a traveling call anywhere was missed.
The number to call Papi from the Banana Phone is 1-800-BANANA.
After "Sí o No", the show comes to an end with Papi thanking the viewers for watching. Le Batard follows with his own goodbye, reminding the viewers when to catch the show again and occasionally promoting either his or Jones' radio show. Le Batard's co-host has the last word, saying "Gracias, see ya mañana" or "see ya el lunes" depending on the day of the week (lunes being Spanish for Monday; this is usually said to close the Friday show). After this, there is a brief interlude where something from the previous segment or from earlier in the show is revisited humorously before the show cuts out
Occasionally during the commercial interlude, a special guest would appear on the set. During the use of the kitchen-themed set, the guest could be seen utilizing the kitchen, supposedly without Dan or Gonzalo noticing. On the Clevelander set, the guests have appeared in studio, sometimes joining the panel for the "¿Sí o No?" segment. Special guests have included Lil Wayne,Pat Riley, Jason Taylor, Kimbo Slice, Sebastian the Ibis, NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, Ron Magill, Steven Bauer, Pedro Martínez, Micky Arison, Mike Lowell, Lil Dicky, Robert Smith, and Pat Sajak among others.
Since 2014, Highly Questionable presents the "Papi Awards", an end of the year special which consists of a series of awards based on video clips that were usually visited in Do You Question. Papi dresses in a tuxedo while Le Batard and Jones served as his co-hosts, and each category has a winner and at least two runners-up. Each "winner" receives the "Golden Banana", a trophy made for the occasion. A constant running gag for the awards is that the winners are not able to receive the award in person for various reasons, so the trophy is held over for each subsequent award. There was no Papi Awards special in 2019, due to Papi's sabbatical from the program.