The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: An Encomium for Late Night Talk Shows

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageAmericans don’t appreciate their Late Night talk shows enough. Sure, the recent switcharoo with Leno, Conan and Kimmel brought some attention to the “genre”, but on an average night it is shameful that only about 4 million people tune in to the most-watched of the Late Night entertainers. Why is it a shame? Because Americans don’t realize how good they have it with all those Late Shows to choose from.

Over here in Europe you would be hard pressed to even find one similar show per country. And that still doesn’t say anything about its quality.


The Late Night Talk Show is a well established corner stone of American television and by now it has been crafted into somewhat of an art form.  Almost every major network affords itself a Late Show of some sort. (You could even count The Daily Show and The Colbert Report among them in a way.) And there is a lot to be said for the sarcastic and ridiculing commentary on society and politics these shows provide, even when some jokes hit below the belt or are derivative without end.

At the end of a long day that has gotten you down, there is nothing better than to watch a funny Joe Average make fun of the very same things that frustrated you out there in the world. Corrupt politicians, useless scientific experiments and mind-numbing celebrity feuds. Trash-talking and bad-mouthing can be so much fun and make you feel so much better about your own life.

The reason I demand more praise and credit for Late Night talk shows is simple: I wish I would get to watch them every night. See, here in Germany (and I apologize for always bringing up comparisons with this country, but it’s the only one I know intimately), we have/had two shows that could even remotely be called a Late Night show.

ImageHarald Schmidt was actually quite successful for a few years and he did the sort of “out of the ordinary” things that make Late Night shows such a highlight every now and then. I remember an episode or two where he re-told ancient Greek myths and God-stories by using Playmobil figurines and a paper maché miniature set of Olympus and Athens. It was glorious, it was messy, it was confusing. He didn’t remember everything correctly and kept bickering with his sidekick, Manuel Andrack, about the details of the stories. I couldn’t stop laughing. It was entertainment for the sophisticated and yet slightly silly mind and I watched religiously every night from the comfort of my bed.

But then Schmidt decided to “retire”, only to return one year later on a different network, minus his old sidekick, brining in bad ratings and then hiring the most annoying German comedian ever, Oliver Pocher, as his new sidekick to attract a younger audience. Now they do entertainment for idiots and Schmidt’s extraordinary intellectualism and sophistication are going to waste.

And don’t even get me started on Stefan Raab, who has a lot of really good ideas when it comes to creating “show events” and even tries to bring back quality into German music, but his nightly show is almost unwatchable.


How long can I hide the fact that I am actually Santa Claus?

So, America, appreciate your Late Night Talk Shows and their hosts as long as you still have them! Yes, I, too, am tired of David Letterman’s shtick and I don’t really think Jimmy Fallon has the panache to survive long enough for anyone to remember he was a Late Night host once, but at least these guys are still TRYING! At least you don’t have to watch re-runs of the shows from 8 p.m. at 12 p.m. (I’m not even kidding, this happens on German television!).

My favorite Late Night guy by far is Craig Ferguson and it’s about time more people jumped on the band wagon. He doesn’t have an annoying band with a band leader who misguidedly thinks anyone cares about what he says and Craig doesn’t have a sidekick either (only an imaginary one), but he does have a funny accent and no shame. What more could you possibly want from your Late Night television?

Sometimes he makes jokes about physics only those among us who graduated college can understand. And sometimes he quotes entire Victorian poems on the show. Yet he appreciates a good fart joke and continues to have the lamest sketches in Late Night. There is nothing not lovable about The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

I present exhibit 1-5 of why Craig Ferguson is the King of Late Night (and I can give you TONS more exhibits, should you need them):

Craig has figured out why everything sucks.

Kronos addresses the human population.

Wavey – the audience favorite – opens the show.


Craig and The Craigettes perform “In the Navy”.

Craig talks seriously about his struggles with addiction and why he will not ridicule Britney Spears.


So, I expect you to do one of three things now. Either

  1. A. tune into the Late Late Show on CBS at 12:30 a.m. every night OR
  2. B. set your TiVo to record it every night OR
  3. C. watch every episode online at Malinky2Stoatir’s fantastic YouTube Channel.

Any questions, America?



Recommended Collisions with your Television

(combine at will, all times EST, only new programming listed)


Tuesday, November 24th
 8 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
   V (ABC)
 9 p.m.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
 10 p.m.
 The Good Wife (CBS)
   Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Wednesday, November 25th
 8 p.m.  New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)
   So You Think You Can Dance – Results (Fox)
   Mercy (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Gary Unmarried (CBS)
 9 p.m.
 Glee (Fox)
   Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
   Criminal Minds (CBS)
 10 p.m.
   Nip:Tuck (FX)
Thursday, November 26th  
 8 p.m.  Vampire Diaries (CW)
   Bones (Fox)
   FlashForward (ABC)
   Community (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Parks and Recreation (NBC)
 9 p.m.
 Supernatural (CW)
   The Office (NBC)
   CSI (CBS)
 9:30 p.m.  30 Rock (NBC)
 10 p.m.  It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
   The Mentalist (CBS)
   Private Practice (ABC)
Friday, November 27th
 8 p.m.  Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
   Law & Order (NBC)
   Smallville (CW)
 9 p.m.
 Medium (CBS)
   Ugly Betty (ABC)
   Monk (USA)
 10 p.m.
Saturday, November 28th
Sunday, November 29th
 8 p.m.  The Simpsons (Fox)
 9 p.m.
 Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
   Dexter (Showtime)
   Desperate Housewives (ABC)
   Family Guy (Fox)
 10 p.m.
 Californication (Showtime)
   Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
   Cold Case (CBS)
Monday, November 30th
 8 p.m.
 How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
   House (Fox)
   Heroes (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Accidentally on Purpose (CBS)
 9 p.m.
 Two and a Half Men (CBS)
   Gossip Girl (CW)
   Trauma (NBC)
 9:30 p.m.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
 10 p.m.  Castle (ABC)
   CSI:Miami (CBS)