For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been expressing emotion through art. Whether it be physical art on cave walls or in sculpture or live performance through music or dance, people have been commenting on daily life through creative means for centuries. Theater is one of these ancient traditions, and boiled down to its simplest parts, the stories we tell on stage are tragic and comic. But as the old equation goes, “comedy = tragedy + time.” American comedy has seen many forms and many iterations, with jokes and subjects going in and out of fashion. But one thing that’s been a mainstay of the American comedy scene since the advent of television has been the late night show. In some ways, the late night show has remained exactly how it originated nearly seventy years ago (like it’s always been on in the evenings). But in some major ways, the late night show has evolved into an American icon, so much so that the market has grown exponentially just in the last twenty years. And though formats and channels and mediums may be different, what is consistent in the late night space is this: the host of a late night show can make or break a late night show.
Since so many late night shows are synonymous with their hosts, even ones that have had multiple hosts over multiple decades, we suspect that “best late night host” might be an incredibly divisive subject. And if there’s one thing this podcast does best, it’s ask you hard questions. So on this week’s episode, we’re asking you: Which Late Night Host is the Best Late Night Host?
The metrics for this one were a little all over the place, so we’ve got our first ever eighteen-seed bracket this week. Most of our hosts are currently on the air, but some of them aren’t. We’ve got a mix of bonafide legends and legends in the making (and James Corden). Even if you’re not a late night buff, late night has such a pervasive control over American culture that we’re sure you’ve seen at least one clip of every single one of these shows.
So who will it be? Will it be Emmy-darling John Oliver, whose Last Week Tonight has destroyed the form and borders on educational programming? Will it be Amber Ruffin, whose show is breaking barriers and pushing the format to new heights? Will it be Arsenio Hall, whose dog pound might have single handedly been responsible for the election of 42nd president after he played the saxophone on the program? Or will it be Johnny Carson, the man who we can safely say is responsible for a lot of the artform?
It’s anybody’s game, and we’re excited to see what you think. And because this is such a big subject, we’ve called in backup. Rebekah Sigman, pursuer of the creative arts and late night enthusiast (and Nia’s old classmate), is here to talk shop with us, and she makes some pretty compelling arguments both for and against people on this bracket. This is not one you want to miss, folks!
Listen to the new episode here:
Play-In Round: Monday 11/29
Sweet Sixteen: Tuesday 11/30
Elite Eight: Wednesday 12/1
Final Four: Thursday 12/2
Championship: Friday 12/3
Winner revealed on a brand new episode on Saturday 12/4!!!
And here's our link to vote!