The headline says …
What about diversity in late night?
Seriously? Those in control of late night TV have had the needle stuck in tradition for too many years. The choice of Stephen Colbert as a replacement for David Letterman is all too obvious. The one thing the executives in charge of this were not going to do is rock the boat. Wait a minute, I hear you say!! Isn’t Steve the kind of entertainer that does this as his routine? Well, not really. The use of sarcasm has been around for a lot longer than Mr. Colbert and as a matter of a tradition, that’s about all Letterman has been doing on his own for many years. Letterman used to be funny, I’m not sure Colbert has ever been. That sounds critical but c’mon, rather than think he’s got something going, look at what his routine has been with the Colbert Report. He portrays a fictional stereotype conservative commentator while using sarcasm to pretend to comment on news, mostly political. John Stewart, whether you like his politics or not, is funny. He’s quick-witted and can change things up. Women were never really on the radar, because they might show up the guys.
Perhaps there’s depth we haven’t seen from Stephen Colbert. Humor lurks in the depths of his soul or his razor wit will bring out the best of the parade of the ‘Hollywood in-crowd’. Frankly, I don’t see it. The article points out a lack of diversity in late night TV. I have to agree, perhaps for slightly different reasons. Leno and Letterman were cut from the same cloth but diverged over the years. Letterman started out funnier, more creative in the early years but ended up looking like a sardonic, political fixture, whereas Leno seems to have found his footing later and could rattle off the customary monologue as if he was enjoying himself. Now that Jimmy Fallon has replaced him, perhaps that silly funny attitude will carry on. One thing is for sure about Fallon, he’s got the most hip, talented group of backup musicians to play off of as part of his shtick. I’m not trying to slam Paul Schaffer, because he and his band have a gift but the Roots thing is new and exciting.
So where does this all go wrong? First, do we need another middle-aged cynical man on late night TV? At least when Letterman finished, he had Craig Ferguson following him. Craig does more with a low-budget than the other late-late comedian / hosts do. Furthermore, he’s genuinely funny and manages to spark that in his guests.
Back when late night TV had a couple of good hosts, Johnny Carson and Arsenio Hall, there were several reasons they were liked. First thing you noticed they actually cared about the people they brought on. As a matter of routine, Arsenio featured new-comers to the entertainment biz.
Perhaps it’s just me, but the late night genre is dying. The creativity isn’t there and the in your face, cynical, political, sardonic humor just adds nothing to the equation. I wish Colbert well, but the point of having this opportunity for a change might have been better served if they did bring in a woman to helm this spot.
Here’s an example of Craig Ferguson with one of his guests.