Late-night is still America’s funniest pastime
In a world where everyone knows the name Honey Boo Boo Child and the final two couples on Bachelor Pad, it‚Äôs easy to overlook the authenticity of an established television genre that has been entertaining audiences for over 60 years: the late-night talk show.
As of recently, it seems like many Americans take pleasure in turning their favorite late-night talk show hosts into reality show characters, pitting them against one another and salivating at any bad blood that may exist between them.
When NBC had the monumental idea to force Jay Leno to prematurely retire and award Conan O‚ÄôBrien with The Tonight Show five years before he‚Äôd even stepped on the monologue mark, everyone was just shocked when the peacock execs cooled off to the idea (talk about raising expectations). Clearly, this shake-up didn‚Äôt help to relieve any existing feelings of animosity, but instead intensified fan loyalties for the network stars to an almost morbid extreme.
And now to make things more interesting, the popular as ever Jimmy Kimmel is being thrown into the 11:30 mix along with Leno and David Letterman. The battle lines are once again being re-drawn, and it‚Äôs hard not to think that something (or, someone) has to give for one man to win the historically coveted time slot. Fascinating stuff, of course, but also perhaps a distraction from what really matters ‚ÄĒ their shows.
We‚Äôre all guilty of flagging our favorite late night ‚Äúguy‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúgirl‚ÄĚ (we see you, Chelsea Handler) based on superficial and judgmental criteria. ‚ÄúDave‚Äôs too old.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúConan‚Äôs too quirky.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúStewart and Colbert are too political.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúJay‚Äôs not funny.‚ÄĚ
Yes, ratings are important. Yes, taunting the ‚Äúother guy‚ÄĚ is fun. But when we audaciously pick apart these hosts who literally live to make us laugh at the end of a long day, it begs the question: Can‚Äôt we just sit back and enjoy it?
Very few people have the talent to entertain us right before we go to bed. There‚Äôs still something pretty magical about a host being affectionately greeted by an enthusiastic audience, watching a glamorous movie star let loose and be self-deprecating or creating next-day viral moments with a hilarious bit.
Even though we enjoy the behind-the-scenes gossip, don‚Äôt forget to appreciate the fact that late night gives us permission to laugh at the absurdities of life on a nightly basis. In such serious times, we still very much need Kimmel‚Äôs Unnecessary Censorship, Dave‚Äôs Top Ten List, Leno‚Äôs Headlines and Conan‚Äôs Fan Corrections. And a Snooki joke never hurts.