The latest Vanity Fair has a toothless puff piece entitled “Why Late-Night Television Is Better than Ever,” which features a photo of pretty much every male — yes, the bedtime humorists still all possess Y chromosomes — in the biz. The article is just the latest evidence that, post-Letterman, late-night TV has lost its bite. Seriously, why are these guys being fucking buddy-buddy with each other?
Lots of sausages go along with these cocktails amirite, fellas?
Growing up, there was no shortage of drama in late night. It was Leno vs. Letterman, and then it was Leno vs. Conan before it was Leno vs. the world. Bill Carter, a New York Times media reporter, wrote books (books!) on the battles, with The Late Shift even getting the HBO movie treatment. Who can forget this?
Oh, you can because you’re younger than me? Whatever. That shit was great. Leno was a turd and he deserved to be called out by Letterman and Conan.
They say “comedy is tragedy plus time” and the late-night wars were born out of the personal career tragedies of hosts getting sold out, trampled upon and cast aside. (Mostly by Leno, the aforementioned turd. Let’s make it “spineless, unfunny turd.”) But, the animosity bred hilarious and heartfelt comedy. Some of the best stuff Conan O’Brien did came after NBC let him know they were booting him from The Tonight Show. He was pissed and he converted that into laughter. He had nothing to lose and that made it even funnier. Plus we got moments like this:
Now, I’m not saying that anyone’s lives should be ruined or that, even, the hosts’ delicate feelings should be hurt. But, how about some good ol’ fashioned American competition? Not Fallon making a cameo on Colbert’s first night! What the shit is that? So, you’re gonna stick to the script by not mixing up the format. NBC, ABC, and CBS will still refuse to give a gig to an openly gay person, a woman, or a person of color. All of you are going to shy away from doing anything original. Then, at least, have it out for our entertainment.
If we want the best guests, the best interviews and the best bands: a battle must be waged. And, if Colbert and Fallon get into it, I’m sure Conan will have something to say from his perch — that will instantly make his show more relevant. Kimmel? Eh, who cares.
So, listen up, late-night captains: Let’s get into it. I’m gonna need Trevor Noah aiming some shots at Bill Maher. I want me some James Corden making fun of his American counterparts for not being witty. Hook a brother up with John Oliver making this all a subject of one his main stories. And, sure, Larry Wilmore can remind us that Seth Meyers is still on the air.