Ever since 2005, Stephen Colbert has been ruling late night television on Comedy Central. Next year he will be leaving his post after ten years to take over for David Letterman on Late Show. This is a drastic change for Colbert, whose current show is a satirical version of The O’Reilly Factor. Will his current rapport with his audience get in the way of his success as himself on CBS?
Letterman announced his departure not even two months after Jimmy had taken over for Leno. I cannot say that I was surprised that by Letterman’s retirement. Everyone knew Fallon was going to be some serious competition. Fallon is more relevant and appealing to the precious 18-49 audience. He has a social media savviness that Letterman doesn’t have. So when Letterman “unexpectedly” announced his retirement, CBS needed a host that would supersede Jimmy’s popularity. Colbert already has a large and loyal audience from his show on Comedy Central, which make him a very good choice for Late Show.
Wow. David Letterman announcing his upcoming retirement shocked me. It shouldn’t have. We all knew it was coming. No one was under the impression Letterman would be hosting The Late Show until he dies. He’d host it until Jay Leno was out of the collective consciousness or dropped dead. Once Leno said goodbye to The Tonight Show stage one last time, Letterman’s days were numbered. All he did today was confirm everyone’s assumption.
When all is said and done, Letterman will have hosted a late night talk show for 33 years: 11 as host of NBC’s Late Night, the last 22 will be with The Late Show and CBS. It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago few people expected Letterman to surpass his idol Johnny Carson’s reign in late night, which was an impressive 30 years. Now, we’re wondering how CBS will fill the hole in their lineup when Letterman leaves next year.
The Tonight Show fits Jimmy Fallon like a glove. It’s a perfect match that I wasn’t expecting. For me, Jimmy Fallon’s version of Late Night didn’t capture that show’s essence. During their times on Late Night, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien were the guys who came on after the show your dad watches. They were slightly edgy and a little left of the mainstream without completely alienating it. Jimmy swims in the middle of the mainstream and wholeheartedly embraces it. It wasn’t a good match for Late Night, but it’s exactly what The Tonight Show‘s about.
Unlike Dave and Conan, Jimmy was able to move his old show lock, stock, and barrel an hour earlier. There was no changing to appease middle America, but he acts enough like an overgrown frat boy to appeal to the college crowd. If Jay Leno is vanilla, Jimmy is vanilla with sprinkles. He’s inoffensive fun. Parents won’t have a problem having their kids stay up late Friday nights watching The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, whereas they shudder at the thought of a certain self-pleasuring recurring character from Conan.
Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a Conan O’Brien and David Letterman fan. For all intents and purposes, the media tells me I should despise Jay Leno. I don’t. He’s not my favorite comedian. I find what he did to David Letterman distasteful, but it’s been over 20 years and the two men now talk to each other again. I also think he should have left NBC after they handed The Tonight Show to Conan. However, things get nasty when two people are battling over their dream job. For years ago Jay came out looking bad, yet so did Conan. The real loser was NBC.
Instead of hating Jay, I understand that he’s vanilla. Something bland that the remains of an aging mainstream America falls asleep watching. I am not his target audience. In spite of it all, I watched the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno expecting something more than a typical show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. NBC’s making a big deal about the changing of the guard at The Tonight Show, but Jay went out with a whimper. It was an average show that focuses more on the past than normal, which is saying something for a show hosted by a guy still making Monica Lewinsky jokes in 2001.
In 1977, David Letterman was still a struggling standup comedian trying to break into television, which is the only way to explain why Letterman would ever take part in the mess of a pilot that is The Riddlers. Unless you’re a fan of David Letterman, perpetual b-list game show guests from the 70s, or things that are so bad, they’re good, The Riddlers is not worth watching.
The Riddlers‘s pilot has many things wrong with it. The most obvious are several format flaws. First, there’s the fact that Letterman is almost useless. The contestants are reading the riddles to other members of their team. The Riddler‘s doesn’t need a host and it doesn’t deserve on as good as Letterman. He exists solely to read the rules and repeat questions that have already been read. While it is necessary to repeat questions every now and then, no game show needs a dedicated echoer.
As if a built in redundancy isn’t bad enough, the starting team is almost guaranteed to win. The problem isn’t that the object of the game is to answer 9 riddles correctly. It’s that the losing team from the previous game starts the new one and keeps control of the game until they get an incorrect answer. It’s entirely possible for a really good team to win the game without the other team ever answering a question. The only reason that doesn’t happen in the pilot is because Joyce Bulifant isn’t too bright, which she has also demonstrated multiple times on Match Game, so it’s not like she was having a bad day.
Yesterday, August 29, marked David Letterman’s 20th year hosting the Late Show on CBS. While fans are probably a little disappointed that Dave didn’t give in and do a retrospective episode or primetime special (Neither one was ever going to happen. This is Letterman we’re talking about.), there’s no reason we can’t, with the help of YouTube, take a look back at Dave’s time on CBS.
Dave may not have gotten The Tonight Show and NBC may have tried to sue him for using their intellectual property, but that didn’t stop Dave from bringing Larry “Bud” Melman, now using his real name, Calvert DeForest, to CBS. In fact, DeForest was the first person seen on the Late Show. Unfortunately, the clip below doesn’t have DeForest’s appearance on the first show, but it does have Ed Sullivan introducing Dave.
On November 13, 1987, ten years after their divorce, Sonny and Cher appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. The duo stopped by for an interview and to sing their hit “I Got You Babe.”
During the interview, it is apparent that Sonny and Cher still care deeply for each other.
NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt doesn’t know the definition of insanity. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour that he hopes Jay Leno stays with NBC, after his run at The Tonight Show is over and Jimmy Fallon takes over as host. Clearly, the Peacock Network is conveniently ignoring the lessons it should have learned from situations with Conan O’Brien and, his Late Night predecessor, David Letterman. The golden rule at NBC should be: “Until Jay Leno no longer works here, don’t give The Tonight Show to the host of Late Night.”
Jason Sudeikis leaves Saturday Night Live. Last night, Jason Sudeikis announced on the Late Show with David Letterman that Saturday Night Live‘s 38th season was his last with the long running sketch comedy show. At the end of the past season, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen also left the show.
In keeping with the musical theme of the week, enjoy The World’s Most Dangerous Band’s “Dress Cool.” In 1985, the song was performed on Late Night with David Letterman‘s Holiday Film Festival.