I’m many things, but a late night talk show junkie is not one of them. I certainly watched my fair share and I’m old enough to have enjoyed The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and David Letterman in his prime. Still, the landscape has changed with cable. There are a plethora of choices of late night talk shows on all the outlets and most of them are doing amazing work.
The network guys like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and James Corden all have made a name for themselves. I think Conan O’Brien and Trevor Noah (with Jon Stewart before him) are also doing good work. Throw in The Daily Show alums Samantha Bee and John Oliver and its getting crowded.
Unsurprisingly, for most of this recent period, Fallon’s Tonight Show has been leading in the ratings. His wholesome approach to comedy definitely appeals to a lot of people. Interestingly though after the election of Donald Trump, his ratings have dropped and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has routinely beat him. Also of note is when the turn occurred. Right after Fallon had Trump on his show and basically made him seem normal to the average viewer, the country started changing the channel.
It seems the late night talk show viewer wanted a bit more bite. Colbert and Meyers have stepped up their game in attacking the administration and, of course, Noah, Bee and Oliver were always political in their approach.
Fallon isn’t going to change, but his bland approach isn’t working in 2017. Cue an appearance by Justin Timberlake in 3, 2, 1…