As an unemployed writer, I’m always up until the wee hours of the morning, working on scripts, articles, and filling out online applications. My only companions during these lonely nights are the various late night hosts. I have grown to love almost all of them, with the exception of David Letterman. So with all this drama going on, it’s time for me to weigh in on each program by scoring them worst to best (one – seven):

1 – The Jay Leno Show

Well since this show is a universal failure, what is there to talk about that hasn’t already been said or parodied by Jimmy Kimmel? Jay’s jokes are corny and stale. The interviews always feel artificial despite Jay’s approach to remove the desk dividing himself with his interviewer (oh by the way, Carson Daly did it first, so it’s not really innovative). Jay’s “10@10” segment feels like a cheap rip off of Letterman’s “Top Ten” list, even though the premise is different. Even Jay’s new segments like watching the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, and the usually hilarious Steve Carrel drive a hybrid car around a race track aren’t worth watching. It’s clear why this show is being cancelled: Jay Leno has run his course.

2 – The Late Show with David Letterman:

I wanted to start with Dave since he’s not really a part of the NBC family. For those of you who are too young to remember, Dave used to host “Late Night”. Conan took over for him when he left the show and did battle with Leno over Carson’s spot on “The Tonight Show”. Leno obviously won and he moved to CBS to host his own show.

Now it should be noted, I’m not a fan of Letterman. I know there are many of you who are huge fans of Dave, and I can respect that. I’m just not a fan of his comedy style: he’s too dry in his delivery, the “Top Ten” list has gotten very old and is like Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” segment, and his interview style always makes me feel uncomfortable for the guests.

3 – Last Call with Carson Daly:

This latest of the late night programs is hit or complete miss for me. Carson can give an interesting interview from time to time, and I actually like the new audience-less format, but my problem is Carson isn’t engaging as a host. Jay, Dave, Jimmy, and Craig are all characters. They have a presence on camera. Carson always brings this “I could care less” attitude that rubs me the wrong way. The one thing I really enjoy about his show is the fantastic concert performances from up and coming artists and big name bands usually at the end of his show. Carson has introduced me to several bands I may have never heard of. He also has the credit of debuting The Killers to the viewing world and helped launch their career.

4 – The Jimmy Kimmel Show:

I’m from Los Angeles, and I’ve grown up listening to KROQ, our local “rock” radio station. Jimmy Kimmel used to work for this radio station and was pretty hilarious. When he got his own talk show, I thought it was great! I thought he would be able to easily make the transition from radio to TV.

Although his show is interesting and enjoyable, Kimmel’s demeanor makes me feel like I’m watching a lazy version of a talk show. His show has some high points: the infatiuation with “LOST”, his recent parody of Jay Leno, and his commentary of Jay Leno’s behavior on Jay’s show, but I still can’t really get into Kimmel’s show. I’m not sure if it’s his blasé attitude, or the fact that practically every segment involves his Uncle Sal or the overweight Latino guard Guillermo.

5 – The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson:

I don’t think enough people give this show a chance, or credit. Craig manages to give two hilarious monologs a night, touch base with his viewing audience with his e-mail segments, and his show feels like he’s winging it which makes for interesting viewing. You never really know what you’re gonna get each episode. I also must commend Craig’s interviews with guests. Dave, Jay, and Conan all read from cards during their interviews and their questions often feel canned. Craig defiantly goes against the grain, and tears up an interview card before each interview. The interviews always seem like an honest conversation between two people and have resulted in some amazing moments on late night.

6 – The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brian:

I’ve been watching Conan for years and fondly remember the years of Pimpbot-5000 and The Masturbating Bear. He’s always been a great host and when I heard he was taking over “The Tonight Show”, I was excited. I thought this was a great move on NBC’s part. You may be asking, “Why is he only number 4 on your list if you like him so much?” Well as a big fan of his former show, I can honestly say he’s slipped a little in his new time slot. Now I attribute this to Conan trying to find his show’s voice in this new time, stage, and city. Conan has always been a New York guy, so moving to the west coast, he has to try and find a way to relate to a completely different culture he’s unfamiliar with.

Now onto the current debacle at NBC: I feel like many people do, Conan has gotten the shaft from NBC. He moved his family, his staff and their families, and was promised time to grow his show. Due to NBC’s decision to add the awful “The Jay Leno Show” at 10, Conan doesn’t have a strong show to bring new viewers to his show. Unfortunately, NBC apparently sees this as a problem with Conan and not Jay. Well now news has come down the wire that Conan’s final show is going to be on Friday, January 22nd, and I couldn’t be more disappointed. I imagine Jay Leno will return to “The Tonight Show”, and I for one will refuse to watch it… even if J.J. Abrams is on to answer every one of my questions about LOST.

7 – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

With the exception of Weekend Update with his co-host Tina Fey on SNL, I was never a big fan of Jimmy Fallon. So naturally, when I heard he was going to take over Conan’s late night position, I was hesitant. After upwards of 180 shows, I can say Jimmy has made me a big fan of his.

His show feels fresh and innovative. With segments on new video games, video game designers, beer pong with celebrities, fake iPhone applications, “The Real Housewives of Late Night”, “Seventh Floor West”, and so many others, the show always has a what are they going to do tonight feeling to it.

Some of his sketches aren’t perfect like The Wheel of Carpet Samples is completely retarded and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed once during that segment.

Jimmy’s interviews feel like how I would approach an interview: like a raving fan boy. Often times, Jimmy fawns all over the guests, praising their work and telling them how “awesome” they are. I often hear myself speaking through Jimmy during these moments and I can really relate to him. He manages to keep his interviews funny, interesting, and fresh.

I’d also like to speak briefly about Jimmy’s in house band, The Roots. Most of the late night talk shows have bands, and if I’m not mistaken, they all claim to be the best band in late night. The Roots are the true kings of the late night bands. I’m always surprised when The Roots manages to belt out their version of a popular song or when they play “Freestylin’ with The Roots” with the audience. I also love how they manage to personalize “walk out music” for each guest when they emerge from the behind the curtain.

Over all, Jimmy Fallon is clearly the new king of Late Night. With his ties to current trends, The Roots amazing musical talents, a wide variety of hilarious sketches, engaging interviews, and his overall fun loving demeanor, this is clearly the show to watch.

On one final note, Coco, if you’re reading this, whatever network you end up on, I’ll be watching!

Last 5 posts by Josh Singleton

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Categories: Television


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  1. BJones says:

    Jimmy got really good, I never liked him on SNL much, he was jumpy and annoying, but he has settled into his own and does a lot of cool stuff. Letterman just owns up and down, he pulled so much shit on his show and really tried to make it new and interesting. Gotta love him for that. Conan was great on late night, but I didn’t follow him on his move and miss a lot of his older bits (mainly the stuff powered my Robert Smigel). Leno is just horrible bland boring mainstream humor.

    Carson daily could easily be replaced with a cardboard cutout and nobody would notice.

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