Thursday, January 03, 2008

Errybody's Doin' It

AVClub, Defamer/Gawker and even are rapping about last night's new batch of late night talk shows which featured the return of two shows with writers (Letterman and Ferguson [Craig, not Stacy aka Fergie]) and three without [1] (Conan, Leno and Kimmel). I had a chance to catch most of these shows before slumbering off to dreamland and then waking up super early to make the hour-and-a-half commute to work.

The Best:

Letterman's always a pleasure to watch. Even when his bits stink, he still finds a way to riff off of them. Y'know, like a real comedian. It was pretty much a return to form for Dave; the only down side was the Robin Williams guest spot, whose unintelligible sputtering makes me wonder how I ever sat through "Father's Day." Oh yeah, and Letterman was sporting some solidarity facial hair.

Conan, like Letterman, also rocked some pretty awesome facial hair. Due to the fact that he is a member of the Writers Guild, Conan avoided any written material and spent his entire monologue doing what Conan does. He also addressed the absence of his writers by proclaiming that the show, in effect, wouldn't be a show without them. Awww. I didn't manage to watch the rest of the program because I totally fell asleep during the whole-spinning-the-wedding-band on the desk bit. But -- as all the other blogs have pointed out -- at least his filler wasn't terrible.

The Worst:

Leno. Leno, in general, is a pretty terrible talk show host. I think his milestone era was probably between 1996 and 1998, because during that period I felt that Leno's monologue was always a bit stronger than Letterman's (though the latter has often been the better interviewer). For nearly a decade, Jay Leno's lack of quality jokes has continued to be a force to be reckoned with on late night television. "The Tonight Show" was pretty bad compared to the other programs, even by Leno standards. Mike Huckabee was the guest and he played bass with Kevin Eubanks and his band and while Huckabee is a far better bassist than me, Leno was clearly trying to have one of those defining "Clinton On Arsenio" moments, however, due to the writers strike, the bit was marred by bad comedy. Shame on you, Leno.

The Mediocre:

I didn't watch Craig Ferguson's show, but he's not that bad of a host, so I'm sure it was okay.

I've long been indifferent about Jimmy Kimmel. He was always the more likable of the Man Show duo, but his inability to read cue cards always bugged the shit out of me. Kimmel's unscripted bits were pretty funny and he did talk a little smack about the strike, but it was to be expected. The Uncle Frank bits were really the saving grace, otherwise, it was dull as rocks.

[1] I don't know if Carson Daly's show is in reruns, but I don't watch that garbage anyway.

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