The New Late Night Landscape

In the past two years, the Late Night Talk show landscape has drastically changed.  Jimmy Fallon took over NBC’s The Tonight Show, Chelsea Handler quit doing “Chelsea Lately” on E,   Arsenio Hall came back in syndication and got cancelled after less than a year, James Corden replaced Craig Fergueson on CBS’s Late Late Show, Seth Myers is now hosting NBC’s Late Night, David Letterman retired from CBS’s The Late Show and handed the reigns to Stephen Colbert who ended his Comedy Central show and was replaced by The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore . Meanwhile, Jon Stewart, left The Daily Show in the hands of Trevor Noah.  Whew!   Conan is still on TBS and Jimmy Kimmel is still on ABC.

I truly enjoy late night television and looked forward to all the changes.

Starting with The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon: I was on board because  “The Roots” is the House band and they were marvelous during their run on Late Night.  The games were fun and the musical guests were outstanding.  Watching The Roots jam out with Bruce Springsteen on Late Night was electrifying.  But Fallon’s Tonight Show bores me most of the time now.  The constant game playing and weak interviews just don’t do it for me.

Trevor Noah is hanging in there on The Daily Show.  I have been tuning in off and on and in my opinion, the show is still evolving. The cast is more diverse than what we saw during Jon Stewart’s tenure and I like that.  Roy Wood Jr.’s  reports often have me laughing out loud. Did you see the sketch he did with Ronny Chieng and Hasan Minhaj preparing for the RNC this summer?    Chieng’s sketch about body cameras and air bags was pretty funny too.  Each time I tune in to The Daily Show,  I see something different in how the show is presented.  Some days are good, some days not so good. At least they haven’t canceled it.

What did get canceled was The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.  Boooo!!!  While the show did not get spectacular ratings or even decent ones, I knew I could count on Larry, Mike Yard and the rest of the crew to discuss the issues of the day with a viewpoint that didn’t always conform to what mainstream America expects.  The roundtable discussions were interesting, ending with the “Keep it 100” questions asked of guests and Larry alike at the end of the show. What I truly enjoyed about The Nightly Show was that it addressed issues that are important to people of color unapologetically.  It was refreshing to see my point of view articulated for a change.  I really hoped this show would catch on.

The Late Late show with James Corden is on fire right now thanks to Carpool Karaoke.  Corden drives around with singers and musicians singing popular songs.  Did you see the one with Stevie Wonder?  It was hilarious and charming.  But it’s not just Carpool Karaoke, Corden’s first night on the air featured a hilarious sketch explaining how he got and trained for the hosting job. I can’t say I like the format though.  Guests walk through the aisle of the theatre to the stage either high fiving or ignoring the audience.  They all sit uncomfortably close to each other while Corden conducts the interview.  I don’t waste my time  watching the interviews.  But Corden’s energy and sense of fun is contagious and I’d rather watch him instead of…

Late Night with Seth Meyers.  My sister and I cannot stand him.  I never thought he was funny on SNL and he has managed to bring his incredibly dull, Weekend Update esque comedy to bore us all. Ok, maybe not all.   I don’t know how he beats James Corden ratings wise but as soon as I see the Late Night opening  credits I change the channel as quickly as possible.  TBS reruns Conan at that time so….

To me, Conan O’Brien is that kooky friend you hang out with who always makes you laugh and gets you in trouble.  This guy’s humor is so wacky.  I wondered how he would find his footing again after NBC screwed him out of The Tonight Show. Conan is back to being his weird funny self using bits that are reminiscent of David Letterman’s early years.  Go to the Team Coco website and watch the sketch with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart taking a Lyft car ride with Conan .  Or watch the completely absurd dunking contest he has once every few weeks or so.  Even the bits Conan does with his staff are hilarious.  Watch the one about cake in the break room and tell me you didn’t giggle.

I was never a fan of Jimmy Kimmel.  The Man Show he had on Comedy Central years ago was hilarious but it was very sexist. The phone prank show Crank Yankers annoyed me to pieces.  When ABC gambled on him 13 years ago I was like…meh.  But ABC stuck with him.  I decided to give him another chance after watching him tearfully pay homage to David Letterman several times last year. Kimmel is hilarious with kids.   He and sidekick Guillermo dress as elves and interview children about whether they were naughty or nice during the holiday season.  I also love the running gag he has with actor Matt Damon and unnecessary censorship.  For a good laugh check out The Handsome Men club sketch on YouTube .

Folks, I tried to like Stephen Colbert.  Really, I did.  But it’s just something about him that leaves me cold.  I watched the first few episodes of Late Show with Steven Colbert and felt like I was at a party with a bunch of hyped up people I did not know.  So I gave him a few months, recently checked back in and….meh.  It’s a good thing he has Jon Stewart as one of his Executive Producers because the show is missing an identity and edge.



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