Back in 2014, NBC shook up its late night lineup when Jimmy Fallon transitioned into “The Tonight Show” and Seth Meyers took over “The Late Show.” Now CBS is following suit and shaking up its late night roster, bringing in an established host and an up-and-coming one. This shift in late night comedy isn’t just reserved to CBS, however; Comedy Central is also going through a few changes. This of course begs the question, how will this affect viewership for both networks? This shift also calls into question the relevancy of late night comedy shows.
The announcements of David Letterman and Craig Ferguson’s retirements from “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” respectively, were made in April 2014. However, Craig Ferguson didn’t depart until Dec. 19, 2014, and David Letterman won’t be saying his goodbyes until May 20, 2015.
Now the question is—when will the new hosts make their debuts?
Following Ferguson’s departure in December 2014, CBS scheduled a number of guests to fill the approximate two and a half months before James Corden takes over the desk, which was originally scheduled for March 9, but was pushed back to March 23. Such guests included Kunal Nayyar, Will Arnett, Drew Carey, Judd Apatow, Whitney Cummings, Lauren Graham, Wayne Brady, Adam Pally, The Talk after-dark edition (normally The Talk is a daytime talk show starring Julie Chen, Sharon Osborne, Aisha Tyler, Sara Gilbert and Sheryl Underwood; the timeslot was briefly changed to The Late Late Show time) , Jim Gaffigan, Judd Apatow, Regis Philbin, Sean Hayes, John Mayer and Tom Lennon.
Corden, an actor and stand-up comedian, has slowly been rising in fame here in the United States, beginning with two memorable “Doctor Who” guest appearances, continuing with “Begin Again” and most recently portraying the Baker in the Oscar nominated and award winning film “Into the Woods.”
In an interview with USA Today, Corden gave a tour of his brand new set. He explained in the interview that all of his guests will be coming out at the same time and having conversations simultaneously. Interestingly, his new set is very reminiscent of “The Graham Norton Show,” which is a British late night show currently on air, and shown on BBC America. However, that is not to say that Corden won’t have original content. There seems to be much too look forward to with this new host; audiences receiving and willing, Corden should be a smash.
Though Corden will be a brand new face on late night television, David Letterman’s successor is a well-known personality. Letterman has been a late night show host for thirty-two years, longer than any other late night host, including the legendary Johnny Carson. He has been hosting “The Late Show” since 1993, and was on the air longer than his rival, “The Tonight Show’s” former host, Jay Leno. Now he is retiring and his successor is none other than Stephen Colbert. Colbert ended “The Colbert Report” on Dec. 18, 2014, after nearly 10 years on the air. Colbert has won two Peabody awards and four Emmys; he is seasoned, but still extremely relevant and in touch with his audience. Hopefully this will transition to his new position as host of “The Late Show.” So far there have been no announcements made for what CBS plans to fill the “Late Show” time slot within the time between Letterman’s leaving (May 20) and Stephen Colbert’s arriving (Sept. 8).
Colbert isn’t the only star leaving the Comedy Central network. “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart announced that he will be leaving the show after 17 years. His exact departure date is yet undetermined, but it will most likely happen by the end of 2015.
With Colbert ending “TheColbert Report” and Jon Stewart leaving as host of “The Daily Show,” Comedy Central has lost two of its most recognizable faces. On Jan. 19, “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” debuted on the network following “The Daily Show”, in the old timeslot “The Colbert Report” occupied. So far there hasn’t been any word on who or what will be replacing “The Daily Show” in Comedy Central’s late night lineup.
In addition to the older hosts (Ferguson, Letterman, Colbert and Stewart) looking to move on and do new things with their careers, both CBS and Comedy Central are prime for these host changes. As is true with most genres of television, new faces, ideas, etc. are always in demand. Of course, this isn’t new–these “rebirths” have taken place in many different areas of television throughout its 60+ year history. American culture lives for the new and exciting.
Late night television is an interesting mixture of comedy, news, celebrity news and interviews, and more comedy. The hosts of these shows must have an ability to not only entertain audiences, but connect with them and form an almost trusting relationship with them. They must also possess an ability to have a rapport with celebrities.
Claire Farrow can be reached at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org.