America needs to stay up later.
Let’s be honest, late night tv isn’t what it once was. The ghost of Carson gave up hanging around a decade ago and with it has gone alot of the ratings. But what people might not realize is there is a great rennasaince going on right now, it’s just not where people are looking. Let’s look at the facts; Leno’s schtick was getting old before he was originally forced into retirement, then given an ill advised 10pm show. Compound that with the fact that his nice guy image was severly tarnished by the ousting of Conan and add the fact that he hasn’t done anything new or inventive since regaining the Tonight show. the final nail in the Chins coffin is the fact that his ratings now regularly hover right around what Conans were when they gave him the shaft. I’ve also personally lost a lot of respect for him since he said in an interview that only one in ten guests actually interest him. So why the hell is he still doing it? it’s not like he needs the money…
Dave is a different story. Different because Dave hasn’t lost anything, he hasn’t been funny in almost twenty years. He’s no longer the subversive genius that smirks through every show and has the hottest guests, he’s now the grumpy old man that seems to grimmace more than grin and makes no bones about not only specifically booking guests that agree with his political views, but attacking those that don’t. he’s made his show a boring bully pulpit, and his ratings reflect it. No, the true genius in late night lies in the new guys.
Jimmy Fallon: Jimmy seemed destined to failure. Too nice, too uncomfortable in his suits, too geek to draw in America. But a strange thing happened: Jimmy used his geekiness to his advantage. He honestly gets psyched over guests, not only interviewing them with an interest notable absent on other show, but he gets them to play games, sing with him and just do weird things no other host would dare try. He’s gotten bands to perform that broke up decades ago, he’s dueted with Paul McCartney, Rapped Walk this Way with Steven Tyler on the drums and used his amazing house band, The Roots to strengthen every other aspect of his show. His Thank You Notes are a must see segment every Friday.
Craig Ferguson: Competing directly across from Jimmy is the oddest late show on television. Craig is Scottish, can barely be bothered to straighten his tie, makes fun of his audience, is censored for foul language multiple times a night and makes more psuedo gay jokes than Daniel Tosh. Oh, did i mention he had a robot sidekick made for him? yeah, the robot has a mowhawk, wears a disheveled suit and randomly spouts out weird or innapropriate comments, even during celebrity interviews. And Craig even treats his guest with a respectfully lazy attitude. Don’t want to talk about your new movie? ok. Want to have a staring contest? sure. Craig has also gotten daring; once he did an episode with only one guest, no monolouge and no studio audience. he wanted to give that star his undivided attention and didn’t care what it meant to ratings. Oh yeah, did i mention he often has elaborate puppet shows instead of an opening monolouge?
Jimmy Kimmel: Jimmy is the all-American host. He hires his own relatives, has them work as security guards, review movies and do on the street segments. He’s taken an actual security gaurd, one that speaks almost no english, and made him a major part of the show, sending him to red carpets to get drunk and chase down stars. And as for stars, he makes fun of them as much as he interviews them. He’s gotten stars like Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, Josh Groban & Matt Damon to participate in wildly innapropriate and halarious skits. he does all of this with a wink, like he’s just riding the wave till people get bored of him. At this rate he’ll be winking for decades.
Conan O’Brien: Then there’s Coco. Conan is the closest thing to the classic talk show host. after being ousted from the tonight show he grew a beard and hit the road spending months doing standup, jamming with surprise guests and proving himself as one of the funniest men in America. Conjecture was high leading up to his TBS show. Would he shake up the late night format? would he reinvent the world on basic cable? But Conan went for an even bigger surprise; he came out and put on the same solid show he’d been doing for decades, and the crowds loved it. he is still the smartest show on late night, he knows his strengths and is openly willing to mock himself when he falls flat. Hopefully someday Conan will be recognized for what he is; the guy who should still be hosting the Tonight Show.
And don’t forget to search the dial once in a while. Chelsea Handler and Daniel Tosh are also putting out some great shows.
So that’s my 2 cents. You can’t possibly watch all the shows, but check out some YouTube clips and DVR a few. You’ll find that there’s still alot of reasons to watch late night tv