Play That Funky Late Night … White Boys?

With Stephen Colbert replacing David Letterman, homogeneity maintains its reign over our bedtime television.

We urgently need your help.  DAME reports the stories that need to be told, from perspectives that aren’t heard enough. In times of crisis it is even more critical that these voices are not overlooked, but COVID-19 has impacted our ability to keep publishing. Please support our mission by joining today to help us keep reporting.

With the announcement that Stephen Colbert has been tapped to fill David Letterman’s chair over at The Late Show, the networks have set up the next generation’s all-white-boy ratings horse race. As the French say, Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.

So, once again, beginning at 11:35 p.m., and wrapping up at the insomniac’s snack time of 2 a.m., the two-and-a-half-hour, plywood-desk-and-balding-sidekick show will continue to teem with white men—though these boys are largely interchangeable. Crammed in between those time slots are two Jimmys—a Fallon and a Kimmel, plus Seth Meyers, Craig Ferguson, and Carson Daly. And now we have Stephen Colbert, who will presumably have to ditch the hilarious faux-Republican persona that made him so weirdly appealing. Skewing utterly clean-cut, largely Catholic, and firmly clustered on the Anglo-Irish dot on the DNA test result graph, these guys make it seem like diversity is nothing but a Twitter hoax.

So where are the female entertainers and comedians during this stretch of talk-show time? Sure, there were rumors that CBS was talking to Chelsea Handler, who is leaving E! when her contract is up, but obviously it was just that—talk. Maya Rudolph’s much-heralded variety show for NBC nowhere to be seen—she’s certainly available. What I’m getting at here is plain to see, and yet these executives appear to be blind: There’s a conspicuous vacuum of witty, sharp, and entertaining ladies in the late-night lineup.

There’s also a serious risk of calamity here, folks. With so much white-guy talent concentrated into such a slender sliver of time, they could potentially all get sucked into a cleverness-overdose black hole, collapsing in on their own collective white-dude awesomeness—and vaporize, never to be seen or heard from again.

We can avert this potential “star power” disaster by filling that time slot with some fine female talent. Some counter-ballast to all of those balls, if you will. The funny-female pool is wide and deep: Aside from Ms. Handler, there’s Mindy Kaling, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Lisa Kudrow, Maria Bamford, Amy Sedaris, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Samantha Bee, Joy Behar, and even the late-night veteran herself, octogenarian Joan Rivers, for God’s sake, who KILLED IT on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon recently—after a 25-year forced hiatus from NBC.

That’s just to name a few off the top of my head, without even having to dig deep. Because I could go on. And on.

The point is: There are a lot of advantages to giving us a woman to hang out with late at night. For one thing, she won’t need a monochromatic tie or a slender suit. And our late-night lady won’t need a crappy desk, a lame fake backdrop, or a sidekick—unless she wants those things. In fact, she won’t need to adhere to the same-old, same-old formula that every one of these guys has been following for decades. Instead, maybe we gals will revive the variety show, made unparalleled by Carol Burnett (paging Maya Rudolph: Okay! We’re ready!), and put it on a little later so we can indulge in some slightly raunchy hilarity. Maybe there will be a little more song, a little more dance, and a helluva lot more original comedy. Or maybe we’ll just invent something whole cloth.

Someone’s gonna get smart and fill this void with a lady or two, otherwise, the late-night slot is going to start looking like the Donner Party after a few hard weeks of winter. Besides, we need to have our late-night woman host in place soon, because when Hillary becomes our first female president, in 2016, American audiences will need someone on the air who can say things like, “That’s right, bitch”—and mean it.

We urgently need your help! 

Covid-19 has dramatically impacted our ability to keep publishing. DAME is 100% reader funded and without additional support, we can’t keep publishing. Become a member at DAME today to help us continue reporting and shining a light on the stories that need to be told, from perspectives that aren’t heard enough. Every dollar we receive from readers goes directly into funding our journalism.   Please become a member today!

(If you liked this article and just want to make a one-time donation, you can do that here)

Become a member!