Scourge and Transparency

The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

Current late night television in a nutshell

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With the rumours surrounding Jay Leno’s future broadcasting ambitions currently circulating I can’t help but take a step back and comment on the whole realm of late night comedy television. First off, I’ve never been a huge fan of Leno. I was a big follower of Letterman in my younger years. However, I’ll admit that Leno can be at least moderately entertaining at times. Back in the day I quite enjoyed Conan’s Late Night when Andy Richter was in his first incarnation as co-host and was in my opinion the man behind the curtain for that show. Recently TMZ reported (and you better recognize that when TMZ reports something it is doctrine – think Tiger Woods & Michael Jackson) Leno’s 10pm show is going to be moved back to 1130 and Conan’s future is more-or-less uncertain.

I hardly watched more than 45 minutes of both Leno’s new show and Conan’s Tonight Show in their short run. It appears ratings were shit and audience reception was also poor. This isn’t surprising for Leno considering that late night talk shows have aired after 11pm for as long as I can remember. It’s dually obvious that Conan at an earlier time slot was not a wise choice. The Harvard graduate who originally had no experience as a host has a college following and old people don’t stay up late enough to know who this awkward nervous red-haired character even is.

The thing I haven’t heard about, and I am eagerly awaiting, is when NBC plans to execute that attempted abortion they call Jimmy Fallon. This guy is the least talented pathetic piece of shit in the history of broadcasting. There are few people I loathe more in show business (Tom Bergeron & George Lopez being the possible exceptions) than that no-talent ass clown Jimmy (who always looks at the camera and laughs annoyingly for no reason) Fallon. It does not make coherent sense why he has his own show, why he’s ever been on television and why he’s been cast in any movie. Here’s my theory to explain his absurd rise to fame: for some reason Lorne Michaels has a hard-on for him – maybe he is the illegitimate father of Fallon and by black mail is forced to keep Fallon in show business. There is no other more logical explanation.  The only reason Fallon went on to do anything besides gay porn after his pathetic stint with SNL is because when he was a cast member on the show they were going through some of their worst, least watched and least funny seasons in the show’s long history. By convention SNL has to produce a marketable celebrity about every five years or it’ll lose its media footing and collapse in itself. Lorne Michaels than sold his Canadian soul to Satan and that little douche that could started staring in movies, appearing on other shows and ultimately came to host the Michaels-produced Late Night. Finally, to summarize this completely rational contention, I say cancel Fallon immediately and replace him with anything from dead air to snuff films.

When I heard the above prick was getting his very own show I thought it was Craig Ferguson’s time to shine on CBS at 1230am. The thing that is great about Ferguson is that he knows he’s second-rate and he has accepted that no one in the Western World is regularly watching his broadcast. This is what actually makes him funny; he wings it and he doesn’t give a shit. Just look at his resume: the only other experience he has is as the boss on The Drew Carey Show like 10 years ago! Ferguson is underrated and under-watched, which in reality is what makes him refreshing compared to the plastic, suck-up interviews that other mainstream hosts conduct. Conan’s biggest problem is that his interviews are incredibly rehearsed to the extent that is empathically embarrassing to watch. Letterman is also suffering from this lazily overly produced and timid show biz tradition. The Late Show host used to kill it back in the day. He practically invented the kind of “messing with real people/nonsensical” type of humour he used to practice regularly during his first decade & a half on TV and is imitated by so much of modern comedy. Unfortunately Letterman quit drinking, had a kid and since then has gone completely downhill, except for the humorous hiccup when he admitted to having sex with women/”doing creepy things.”

This brings me to what I think is the most aggravating point that has been and is currently completely overlooked in discussions on this issue. A lot of commentators are talking about what the future of late night is going to be and a similar conversation took place when Leno originally announced his fake retirement and then his move to 10pm. The dominant figures in this are always Leno & Letterman and sometimes Jimmy Kimmel is mentioned as a possible dark horse. Despite all the speculation on competition in late night ratings and audience appeal there is little, or no, mention of Comedy Central. I don’t know what the ratings are compared with the major networks but I can tell you that I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a conversation about last night’s Conan, Letterman or Leno. That being said, The Daily Show & The Colbert Report actually spark conversation between individuals and bring to the forefront overlooked issues in a hilarious format. I personally (as well as many of my friends and acquaintances) find that both Colbert and Stewart have many more laughs per minute than any of the other talk show hosts. Additionally both shows are much more acclaimed. Not to mention The Daily Show has won Best Varity Series for SEVEN years running at the Emmys. I’ve shockingly heard rumours that Stewart was actually to replace Letterman at some point! This seems completely illogical to me – it is the equivalent to Letterman moving to NBC at his current time slot when and if Leno ever retires. It should be noted that Stewart is actually on from 11-1130pm. Therefore I’d be very interested to see how The Colbert Report matches up with NBC and CBS during the only portion of their shows that is capable of being comical; before the second & third guest come out and during their monologue/sketches from eleven-thirty till midnight. Everything after this point on Conan, Letterman & Leno is usually sluggish and significantly less watchable than the first half hour of their shows.

 The interview segment can go either way on late night talk shows – depending on the guest this portion can give you all the reason to change the channel when watching NBC or CBS. Unless you are interested in the guest is it rarely entertaining to watch Leno, Conan or Letterman interview the author of a new book on green economics or the captain of the women’s speed skating team.  However, on especially Colbert (because Stewart can be awkward at times and he tends to be deliberately purposeful in some of his more political interviews), there can be anyone in the guest chair and you are usually guaranteed laugh-out-loud comedy. I saw that personality and body of a marlin Michael Phelps on Colbert and I actually didn’t contemplate suicide. I am certain that anyone as mentally and as socially retarded as Phelps would have caused a blind, deaf and comatose person to turn to The Weather Channel if he were a guest on The Late Show or Tonight Show.   

In conclusion NBC certainly has a broadcasting quagmire on their hands. Leno and Conan could certainly condense their sluggish segments into half-hour time slots – from 1130-12 and 12-30 respectively. However Fallon needs to be put down. While I’m not a fan of Leno, old people need to watch something. As for Letterman, I wish for comedy’s sake he never quit drinking or impregnated an older woman than he usually bangs. Also don’t assume that Conan is comfortable and naturally funny – being bad at what you do actually works for Ferguson. And finally everything that airs on NBC, CBS, ABC & FOX after 10pm on weeknights is completely irrelevant because Colbert and Stewart are truly the big shaft and balls not only in late night, but quiet possibly in all of current television broadcasting.


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