The Complicated Role Of Late-Night TV In The Trump Era

Donald Trump has achieved his goal; no matter what he says or how stupid it is, he will always get press. When people overwhelmed and frustrated by the daily reporting of Trump’s antics need an easy-bake comedic take on these events, folks turn to the late night shows. Traditionally, as far back as I remember when Johnny Carson was around, Late Night TV is meant to be the escape from the real world.

Johnny Carson is gone and late night can no longer be easy-breezy with the political turmoil around us. Depending on the network (and the host), this can be a challenge: Jimmy Fallon, who took over for Jay Leno on NBC’s The Tonight Show, comes across as being too dorky and earnest to go hardcore. Stephen Colbert, in charge of the other late night behemoth on CBS, has the better delivery, but comes across as uncomfortable performing the other duties of genre (interviewing, skits, etc). Jimmy Kimmel over on ABC comes across as more of the laid back type who you have wake up from a writer’s meeting while discussing political jokes.

The people who I consider having the most edge and be funny in these times are from two franchises I never was that into; SNL’s Seth Meyers with his Late Night show on NBC and John Oliver with his weekly Last Week Tonight show on HBO. As an honorable mention – Trevor Noah with his tenure on The  Daily Show (he can be middle of the road himself, but he’s getting there). I’m not sure how long audiences will continue to turn into the repeated theme of what Trump and his administration are doing, but I certainly hope they do – America in its darkest hour is finally willing to laugh again.

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