2012 was a very eventful year for late night talk shows. Every host had a goldmine of material thrown at them consistently during the 2012 Presidential election. Superstorm Sandy affected the shows taped in New York by either cancellations or episodes sans audiences. Late night comedy helped us through some of the harder times the country has faced this year. The programs remained cathartic. It is always easier to go to sleep at night with the countless smiles attained from watching late night talk shows.
The late night host who hands down had the best year is Jimmy Kimmel. He hosted the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April to great reviews. He got engaged to Molly McNearney, a writer for his show. In September, Kimmel hosted the Emmy Awards. Jimmy brought his show to Brooklyn the same week Sandy hit, but he did get to interview his idol, David Letterman. The biggest news for his show was that starting January 8th, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will have the new time slot of 11:35, directly opposite Letterman and Leno. This is the first show to knock “Nightline” out of its timeslot on ABC.
David Letterman made the news with his rants about the fact that Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney would not come on the his show during the campaign. Dave took to calling Romney ‘yellow’ and finally proposed after he was repeatedly dodged by those working on his campaign that if the hopeful didn’t grant him an interview, his viewers shouldn’t vote for him. When Sandy hit New York, Dave decided to tape “The Late Show with David Letterman” anyway with no audience and a skeleton crew. The result had a feel of the vintage Letterman edge and was truly something to behold. The event that really threw Dave for a loop was when he found out that he was receiving a Kennedy Center Honor in December. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel, and Ray Romano provided the laughs while honoring Dave at the ceremony.
Stephen Colbert’s year was full of notoriety. He had two best selling books: “I Am A Pole (And So Can You!)” and “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness that We Never Weren’t”. He continued to delve into the meaning of Super PACS and ultimately donated the money of his to charitable causes. Colbert announced in January that he was thinking of running for the President of the United States of South Carolina. Stephen now has a wax statue at Madame Tussauds museum in Washington, D.C. He continued to turn politics on its ear.
Jon Stewart also succeeding once again in examining the world of politics with biting humor of the honest truth. “The Daily Show” won the Emmy for Best Variety Series for the 10th consecutive year. Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon tackled Stewart on the way to the stage to receive the award. In the midst of election season, dubbed by the program as “Indecision 2012”, Jon did a pay-per-view debate with Bill O’Reilly called “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium”. The proceeds from the event went to charities of Stewart’s and O’Reilly’s choice. Both “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” went live on election night.
Chelsea Handler was voted one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. Though the sitcom based on one of her books, “Are You There, Chelsea?” was cancelled fairly quickly, she has development deals to produce more show in the upcoming year. The move of “Chelsea Lately” from a small studio to Conan’s old “Tonight Show” studio at Universal was made a big event by the E! Network. She even started the premiere week with a sketch in which she was naked in a shower with Sandra Bullock.
Craig Ferguson had a week of shows recorded in his homeland, Scotland. “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” moved into a studio about twice the size last one was this fall. Craig did voiceover work on the Disney mega-hit, “Brave”. Ferguson even had a houseband for one week led by Bon Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora.
For Conan O’Brien, it was mostly business as usual and his business is still a mixture of hyper silliness and cutting edge humor. The website Teamcoco.com has an ‘adult’ division now with the domain name www.Conan.xxx . The videos are parodies of what may be on an adult-oriented site. Conan made acting appearances on “Web Therapy” and “Arrested Development”, the latter of which will air on Netflix in 2013. One night, O’Brien did an episode of “Conan” in cornrows and a spray tan because there was a certain amount of money raised to help for an Autism charity through “Night of Too Many Stars”. Finally, the dirtiest moment on late night talk shows of this past year occurred when Sarah Silverman was the guest and she took a picture of Conan’s lips with his tongue slightly poking through on her iPhone, turned it on it’s side, put the photo near her crotch area, and, well, just think about what that resembled.
Jimmy Fallon had another year full of viral video hits featuring his impressions, sketches, and games with celebrities. The musical bits from “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” were compiled for a CD entitles, Blow Your Pants Off”. He won an Emmy for his hosting gig of last year at his alma mater, “Saturday Night Live”. Fallon interviewed Barack Obama at the University of North Carolina Campus and even got the President to Slow Jam the News. Jimmy also did his show without an audience after Sandy hit. Rumors have started to circulate that NBC may be grooming Fallon to take over “The Tonight Show” when Jay Leno’s contract is up in 2014.
Jay Leno hit his 20th anniversary of hosting “The Tonight Show” this year. Even though he still gets great ratings, NBC cut the budget of the program. The effect of the downsizing meant the loss of over 20 employees and Leno taking a huge paycut so more of his staff would not be laid off.
We’ll now have to sit back and watch how 2013 goes for the late night talk shows. Expect more laughter, honors, shake-ups, and notoriety for the upcoming year.