DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
With or Without Writers, Late-Night Shows are Hitting Home Runs
February 7, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
The writers' strike, now officially into month four, could end any day now (for once, that's the same word I'm getting from various sources, who have yet to agree on anything). If these are the waning days - and nights - of the strike, then it ought to be noted that TV's late-night shows have managed to do some especially strong work lately, with or without writers.

The shows with writers - CBS's Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson - have sparkled, ironically, mostly because of their hosts.

craig-ferguson-sworn-in.jpg

Letterman's interviews with Paris Hilton and Hillary Clinton were conducted masterfully, and he got Hillary to joke and talk about husband Bill more candidly than I've seen in any other public forum. Ferguson, meanwhile, made a strong impact, and sent a strong message, by not being funny. When Ferguson was filmed being sworn in as an American citizen, he radiated nothing other than seriousness and pride. It was a surprisingly, memorably touching moment...and, all things considered, a great day for America.

Conversely, three of the shows without writers teamed up for a delightful, same-night trifecta of mock hostility. The argument was which of them was responsible for the political resurgence of Mike Huckabee. Was it Stephen Colbert for featuring Huckabee on his show and jokingly being offered the vice presidential spot? Conan O'Brien, for re-popularizing Chuck Norris, who supported Huckabee? Or Jon Stewart, who made Colbert a star correspondent, and previously, on his short-lived Fox talk series, featured brand-new talk show host O'Brien as an early guest?
In this space last month, I suggested Colbert and O'Brien should launch an all-out feud, in the Jack Benny-Fred Allen tradition.

conan-feud-bat.jpg

But I never imagined it would come to this: all three hosts, appearing on each other's shows the same night to spar not just verbally, but ultimately physically. Colbert, then O'Brien, crashed Comedy Central's A Daily Show. Stewart, then O'Brien, crashed its companion program, The Colbert Report. Then Stewart and Colbert crashed NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, to the delight of all three studio audiences. Great stuff, guys. Keep it up, as long as you need to.

kimmel-fing-matt-damon.jpg

Also without writers, over at ABC, Jimmy Kimmel Live presented Kimmel's long-time girlfriend, comedienne Sarah Silverman, presenting him with a strike-delayed birthday video. It features Matt Damon, and it's almost painfully funny. Here it is, courtesy of YouTube.

Can writers improve on this level of stuff? Hard to imagine.

 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
NCSBK
Type in the verification word shown on the image.