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A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
Written By: Nate Brunet
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A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
David Letterman
A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
Stephen Colbert
A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
Jimmy Fallon
A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
Jimmy Kimmel
A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
Conan O’Brien
A look at the future of late-night TV after Letterman’s departure
John Oliver

After more than 20 years of David Letterman’s “Top 10 List,” “Will It Float,” and “Know Your Current Events,” the late-night talk show host with the best grin in the business just aired his last Late Show episode this week. Last Wednesday’s final show was a fanfare featuring classic moments during Letterman’s reign, with each skit reminding us of the great legacy he is leaving. With Letterman leaving the Late Show and Jay Leno exiting The Tonight Show in 2014, the two late-night giants we have heard jokes from for two decades are now enjoying retirement. The absence of both personalities on television has made many ask if late-night television will ever be the same.  I can confidently say that while there will always be people grumbling about the new late-night talent, the new hosts taking the place of our favorite legends have the talent to be just as popular as Letterman and Leno. Not only that, but there are also a handful of non-network late-night shows that are worthy of your attention, especially now that there is no definite “king” of late-night television. Here’s a brief synopsis of the prominent late-night television shows airing that will convince you these programs are far from dead.  

Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Channel: CBS
Air time: 11:35 p.m.

Alright, I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but Stephen Colbert is awesome. Of course it will be a challenge for Colbert to fill Letterman’s shoes, but the former Colbert Report (both T’s are silent) host has the talent to improve on his already great legacy. The comedian will be dropping the nutty character personality he had on his previous Comedy Central show, but will surely still have us in stitches with his witty humor. Even though this show will not air until September this year, Colbert’s cult fan base is one of many reasons to trust his taking over of the show.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Channel: NBC
Air time: 11:34 p.m.

Many grew to love Jimmy Fallon as a musically-talented comedian who breaks character easily on Saturday Night Live, and his goofy personality is every bit as charming as the host of The Tonight Show. After taking over for Jay Leno early 2014, Fallon has received impressive ratings, beating his main competition of Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel week after week, and even improved on Leno’s ratings his first year. The show is almost exactly the same format of when he hosted Late Night, including popular segments such as “Egg Russian Roulette” (contestants take turns smashing eggs on their face, not knowing if it’s hard-boiled or raw) and “Thank You Notes” (Fallon writes sarcastic thank you notes to people and organizations in current event headlines).

Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Channel: ABC
Air time: 11:35 p.m.

Jimmy Kimmel has hosted this program since 2003, but it wasn’t until 2011 that its original time slot was moved from 12:05 a.m. to better compete with first round of late-night talk shows. Kimmel’s show isn’t actually recorded live, and has the same format as a regular late-night show. There is a history of hilarious segments that have been popular for years such as “Mean Tweets” (actors read mean tweets sent to them on Twitter) and his ongoing (fake) feud with actor Matt Damon.  His show is currently the longest running late-night talk show in ABC history.

Channel: TBS
Air time: 11:00 p.m.

Following Conan O’Brien’s disastrous tenure as Jay Leno’s replacement for The Tonight Show, many thought Conan’s humor was more appropriate for a later crowd. However, much like Stephen Colbert, O’Brien also has a major cult following that supported him after getting booted by NBC. That support led to the creation of his own show in 2010. Some of his most popular sketches include “Fan Corrections” (fans send in a video exposing an error Conan made, but the host always refutes the claim giving an absurd excuse) and “Clueless Gamer” (Conan, who is not skilled at playing video games at all, attempts to play new releases).

The Daily Show
Channel: Comedy Central
Air time: 6:19 p.m.

Although its time slot isn’t exactly “late-night,” Jon Stewart has competed in the ratings with the talk show giants for many years. His show is more politically-oriented than any of the previously mentioned programs, but comedy is still the main ingredient. As we are discussing a great talk show host exiting the spotlight, Stewart himself will be leaving The Daily Show in August this year. He will be replaced by Trevor Noah, who has been a recent frequent contributor on the show. Noah was in headlines soon after it was announced that he would replace Stewart because of some controversial jokes he posted on Twitter. Noah did not apologize for his statements and Comedy Central supported him, so this new version of The Daily Show could have interesting politically incorrect humor. Noah’s Daily Show is expected to air late this year or early next year.

Real Time with Bill Maher
Channel: HBO
Air time: 10:00 p.m.

HBO is the channel to watch if you’re interested in an edgier and uncensored late-night show. Maher has been hosting the program since 2003, which has a political focus much like The Daily Show. Real Time features fewer celebrities than the average late-night show, with most of the guests being experts on the subject being discussed, whether they are politicians, journalists or professors. Also, unlike the average late-night show, this only airs on Fridays, so it’s not hard to catch up if you have missed an episode or two.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Channel: HBO
Air time: 11:00 p.m.

Continuing the theme of political late-night talk shows, John Oliver is yet another Daily Show contributor who has gone on to host his own show. While Jon Stewart went on hiatus to direct the film Rosewater, Oliver filled in as The Daily Show’s host and audiences fell in love with him. The result of that experiment was HBO offering Oliver his own show, where he had full control over what he wanted to discuss on the program (making it apparent that he had some restrictions while on Comedy Central). The show only airs on Sundays and is only a half hour long, but network officials have stated they plan on extending the show’s length to an hour once Oliver has found his groove.

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