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Letterman leaves late night

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 6, 2014

The television industry was rocked last week when "Late Show" host David Letterman announced he will retire in 2015. With the world speculating on his possible successors, I'd like to offer up my take.
SHOULD: Conan O'Brien. Fan favorite, Coco is the perfect choice to replace David Letterman. Conan shares Dave's DNA, both gained their fame as the host of NBC's "Late Night." The third longest tenured weekly late-night host in history (after Letterman and Johnny Carson), O'Brien's been on TBS these past few years and is due for a primetime comeback. On a material level, O'Brien's unique brand of comedy resembles Letterman's more closely than any other comic in late night television today. From their shared use of sarcastic, irreverent and self-depreciating senses of humor to the use of "remote" comedy bits where a camera crew follows the host in comedic segments on the road. O'Brien's audience is the youngest skewing of all late night hosts and while his ratings aren't too impressive his program remains the most popular among online viewers.
SHOULD: Tina Fey. Another self-proclaimed Letterman fan, Fey is without question the finest writer working in comedy today. Before she started appearing in successful comedy films like "Baby Mama" and "Date Night," providing America with the best political impression of the decade as Sarah Palin and racking up an unholy slew of awards for her sitcom "30 Rock," Fey had her turn on SNL as one of the most popular "Weekend Update" anchors. Additionally, her last two stints as host of the Golden Globes with pal Amy Poehler have received rave reviews. She's currently developing another sitcom at NBC and has expressed interest in pursing her film career. If there's one woman who could successfully anchor one of America's biggest late night shows, it's Tina.
SHOULD: Ellen DeGeneres. Everybody loves Ellen. Her feel good, friendly brand of humor stands in stark contrast to pretty much every other comic in late night-except maybe Jimmy Fallon. However, her daytime talk show remains wildly popular and since Oprah's departure, Ellen has virtually dominated the daytime talk scene. The question isn't whether DeGeneres would kill it as host of the "Late Show," it's whether or not she'd be willing to leave an already enormously successful program behind.
SHOULDN'T: Craig Ferguson. I love Craig Ferguson. The man's absurd style of humor and his unrehearsed and often improvised program "The Late Late Show" have cemented Ferguson as a total original. That said, while I think his style of "creepy guy in the basement of CBS at 1a.m." is brutally funny, I don't think the program has the mass appeal necessary to survive at 11:30 p.m., nor does it belong there. Craig's great where he is, although he has it written into his contract that he gets Dave's time-slot if he retires and CBS owes him a payout if they refuse it to him.
SHOULDN'T: Stephen Colbert. Colbert is a comedy genius but the man has built his entire career around his political pundit parody "Stephen Colbert" character. He'd have to ditch that persona and tone down the politically charged humor if he were to inherit the "Late Show." While I'm sure he'd be good, I don't think I'm ready to see him drop his current act on "The Colbert Report," which is absolutely irreplaceable.
SHOULDN'T: Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart. Each man currently possesses a wildly popular show and are unlikely to find further fame as host of the "Late Show." Kimmel already occupies the same time-slot on ABC while Stewart's "The Daily Show" has served as the epicenter for America's political satire for over 15 years. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 


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