Late Night Wars 2017
I am going to write about something I am interested in that isn’t comics, fiction or emotional truth. Late Night Television.
Sorry, kids, they aren’t all going to be deep thoughts.
Back when the big Late Night Wars happened, Leno took over the Tonight Show and Letterman moved to CBS. For the first couple of years, they traded the #1 spot back and forth, and me, being a huge Letterman fan, was happy to see that Dave showed he could work at 10:30, which was an actual concern at the time. However, the OJ Simpson trial started and Leno went all in on it. He did tons of OJ jokes, had bits like “The Dancing Itos” and the like, while Letterman found the whole thing vile and refused to mock it.
Letterman was asked later about it and he said that he couldn’t make fun of a situation where two people were brutally murdered. He took the high road, and Leno pulled out ahead in the ratings, where he stayed until his disastrous 9 pm show.
With Leno and Letterman both being pushed out the door due to their age, the Late Night scene shook up. On ABC, you had huge Letterman fan Jimmy Kimmel, on NBC you had Jimmy Fallon who sees his version of The Tonight Show as a comedy hour and the interviews are a vestigial nuisance, and Steven Colbert struggled a bit moving to the late night talk show circuit. He had great interviews, struggled with his comedy bits and really just seemed like he was doing someone else’s show.
Much like Leno, he has found his breakout, and that is mocking Donald Trump. Last night, I don’t think he had a non-Trump joke in his monologue, opened with his “cartoon Trump” bit, did a Trump segment for his second comedy bit and then interviewed Anderson Cooper about covering Trump. AND he is now beating Fallon in total viewers and is slowly catching up in the 18 – 49 demo.
Fallon’s interview with Trump, where he made it seem like it was all in good fun is REALLY biting him in the ass, as it is cementing him in many people’s minds as a shallow goofball, and his “Party game” aspect of his show is starting to wear thin with both viewers and (according to what I read) publicists, who want their clients to push product, not play beer pong.
It’s gonna be interesting to see how it all shakes out