Absent, or maybe just ignored, among all the words committed to The Tonight Show plan for succession has been a discussion about what will happen to The Late Show with David Letterman and its lead-out The Late Late Show. Like Jay Leno, Dave has been at this game a long, long time. Unlike Jay, Dave seems to not care about ratings (possibly because he knows he’s likely to lose), does not appear to be that concerned with being well-liked (which has worked to his advantage, and has paradoxically made him more revered) and is not in any imminent danger of being forced out by the network brass, basically been given carte blanche by CBS to stay as long as he wants and, essentially, to do what he wants. When one jump-starts a late night franchise from scratch, we guess he’s granted some amount of immunity. But, unlike Jay, Dave doesn’t have a younger, hipper, potential replacement nipping at his heels, which makes the future of The Late Show even murkier.
While Craig Ferguson has built up a small but very loyal, impassioned following, and has received rave reviews for years from critics, we don’t have the sense that he’s long for his job, or at least eying the 11:35pm slot. In that small studio (we’ve been there) in CBS Television City, without a house band or announcer, Ferguson can deliver long, meandering monologues (verging on soliloquies) straight to camera, as if the audience and the viewing public wasn’t there, and engage in extended, intimate irreverent conversations with a diverse pool of guests. The Late Late Show interviews occupy that space between the celebrity shilling meant for the masses that one can observe on most late night talk shows and the quiet, introspective, one-on-one interviews conducted without a studio audience on past programs like Tom Synder’s Late Late Show. Sometimes it feels like The Late Late Show is performed for the studio audience, and then broadcast to millions of homes as an afterthought. Which isn’t to say that Ferguson couldn’t do a more traditional, more accessible late night show if he were bumped up to the main slot, we’re just not sure he wants to. Signed through 2014, when Letterman’s current contract runs through, it feels in some ways like he’s only there as long as Dave is, his relaxed, low-key, mischievous Scottish wit a complement Dave’s acerbic bitterness.
But if not Ferguson, then who?
We’re big enough to admit when we’re wrong, and we were dead wrong when we suggested earlier this week that Tom Hanks’s breathtaking slam poetry performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was the grand finale to what had been a stellar week of appearances on talk shows and telethons. We don’t want to go out on a limb and say that he saved the best for last – because a) we don’t want to be wrong again, and b) we hope there’s still more to come (a visit to Good Day New York, perhaps? – but the self-proclaimed (and rightly so) living legend may have topped himself again last night, as he stopped by The Colbert Report to suggest a few affordable costumes for some good, old-fashioned Spooky Time Halloween Fun (but no Josh Baskin?).
[In an interesting twist, Colbert appeared earlier that night on the latest Office, as case of someone we adore popping up on one of our favorite shows, only to have the person we adore the most pop up on Colbert’s own show later in the evening. Sort of a Russian nesting doll kinda thing]
When will the government go ahead and declare Tom Hanks a national landmark already? That’s Day One stuff.
This is the most fun Stephen Colbert has had since he introduced Colonel Tuxedo’s Cat Meat Stew, the only premium cat meat stew endorsed by Stephen Colbert.
However, to be completely fair, in NYC the cost of a single banana is regularly $.50 or more, and you really can’t put a price on a keeping your banana free of bumps and bruises (well, you can apparently, and that price is $16). As Mike and Tom will tell you, there really is nothing worse than a mealy banana, and sometimes acquiring a better banana on short notice is not an option. So why not take proper precautions? There’s nothing cooler than practicing banana safety.
Full disclosure: as far as we know, we’ve never read anything by Maurice Sendak. We haven’t even seen Where the Wild Things are. The closest we’ve come is putting that Arcade Fire song on a mix once. But, clearly, Sendak meant a lot to a lot of people, and, if our Facebook newsfeed is to be any judge, his words affected several generations. Maybe for them, he was their Jim Henson. For us, our lasting image of Sendak will be, quite literally, his last image, his brilliant appearance on the Colbert Report this past January.
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It’s easy for someone to be a subversive, fiercely free-speaking iconoclast in their 20s. Try doing it til the day you die.
We joke a lot on this blog about people ripping us off – Stephen Colbert, Entertainment Weekly, Paul F. Tompkins (which resulted in a bitter Twitter feud) – but when were never as wounded as we were when we saw a new Vulture post presenting their “Map of the Comedy Zeitgeist.” Why did we find this so alarming, so soul crushing? Well, because it’s essentially an updated (and much, much prettier) version of our Judd Apatow Chart, which we used to launch this blog those three years ago. Sure, the idea that there are these overlapping connections in the comedy world, most of which are tethered to the likes of Apatow, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, and Paul Rudd, has been oft-explored for several years now. But never before has there been a graphic representation that feels so close to ours, so similar (and yet so much more visually appealing). Thus, we will not rest until we receive the credit we are due. In protest we will continue to read, appreciate and occasionally steal from Vulture.
Are we being paranoid? Hyperbolizing? Take a look and you decide.
At least Kermit made it look like a breeze when he made a visit to The Colbert Report to
analyze the Republican Southern primaries plug The Muppets on DVD, available Tuesday, March 20!
Okay, okay, so that video had nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. Let us make it up to you:
HAPPY GERBITZ DAY!
For things exactly like this:
And Jimmy started off the episode so strong, borrowing “The Word” from Stephen Colbert’s playbook (their rivalry/friendship, btw, has to be one of the best ongoing storylines on all of television right now. Including Dexter (which, we admit, we’ve never seen)). Kiss your mother (or wife) with that mouth?
Alternate joke: if Jimmy wasn’t drunk after playing white wine pong, he most certainly was after that. A quick peck from Kathie Lee alone is enough to exceed most breathalyzer tests. A prolonged smooch like that, Jimmy must have been well beyond the legal limit.