Vanity Fair’s David Kamp states that “late-night comedy has seen a disorienting” since the big three — Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jon Stewart — retired from their positions, yet arguably better. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a little weird for someone to say that late-night television is better than ever and then turn around and condemn the world for the lack of women involved in the scene. However, Kamp does make a point that there definitely are more options to choose from in terms of which type of comedy you prefer. But women still seem to be hugely outnumbered in the creative process compared to their male predecessors.
How did that happen? It’s the 2010’s and all late-night has had to show for it was Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea Lately on the E! Network, which ended August 26, 2014. Some of today’s choices are actually no-brainers considering their previous jobs. Conan O’Brian continues to hold his own on TBS after getting the shafted by NBC. His brand of comedy, which he was able to get away with during his late late time slot, didn’t mesh well when he moved to the Tonight Show. When he moved to TBS, he was given more breathing room to do more of the same and then some. Then there’s The Daily Show effect which spawned four different hosts after Jon Stewart, whom we all admire: Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Larry Wilmore, and soon Trevor Noah. All of them started out as writers and correspondents on The Daily Show. Samantha Bee is starting her own hosting gig as well on TBS, but I’m purposely saving her for the end.
Then there’s everyone else: James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, and Bill Maher. I actually like everyone else except Bill Maher, whose comedy revolves around him being condescending ass. But that’s my opinion.
But let’s get back to women. Kamp writes,
What’s conspicuously missing from late-night, still, is women. How gobsmackingly insane is it that no TV network has had the common sense—and that’s all we’re talking about in 2015, not courage, bravery, or even decency—to hand over the reins of an existing late-night comedy program to a female person? While Amy Schumer has acknowledged that she turned down The Daily Show, happy where she is at Comedy Central, that doesn’t mitigate the fact that Chelsea Peretti, Megan Amram, and Jen Kirkman, to name but three contenders, are alive, sentient, funny, and presumably open to taking a meeting. (And how great would Lea DeLaria be as an M.C., going places Ed McMahon never dared to go? It’d be weird, wild stuff.)
Fortunately, comedic redress is on its way, in the form of two new shows created from scratch, Samantha Bee’s for TBS and Chelsea Handler’s for Netflix. (Both shows are due in 2016.) Two female hosts plus the 10 men featured here is still a long way from a late-night that truly looks like America. But the next version of this story’s opening picture will be that much brighter.
Speaking of Samantha Bee…
She has the best responses to the fact that she’s a woman operating in a male-dominated area of entertainment. With Chelsea Handler currently off the air and prepping for a Netflix show, and Grace Helbig’s currently in limbo, Bee will be the only female late-night host on the air. Let that sink in. The only…female host…ON…AIR.
“Don’t watch my new show just because I’m a woman,” Bee jokes in the promo below. “Watch because of my nuanced perspective on world events, my repartee with newsmakers across the ideological spectrum, and of course, these…” She lifts up her skirt to reveal a pair of comically large testicles. Talk about having a lot of hutzpah.
Bee is addressing the supposed need to have such a pair to be a late-night talk show host. She simultaneously cuts into the fact that she’s got said pair to tumble with the big boys, and she really does. Bee worked on The Daily Show for 12 years and became one of the best known female correspondents on the show. She’s a safe bet for TBS and is more than likely to follow Conan’s time slot.
No pressure, Samantha Bee, but you might be the primer for the next female late-night host on a major network. That’s how it works right? Once people see that women can be funny, TV execs would be more open to more nightly female hosts? It works for women whom we previously thought couldn’t handle being action heroes.
Source: Vanity Fair