Even if you don’t know the difference between a monologue and a desk piece, keeping up with late night shows can be an easy way to stay relevant in the pop culture conversation and “Did you see (blank) last night?” is always a great conversation starter. For those of you who haven’t found your late night fix or are open to other options, I decided to review the current field of late night television recommending those that should be on your radar and dismissing those that aren’t worth your time.
“The Daily Show” – The Johnny Carson of our generation, the show isn’t in the conventional late night format or “traditional” channel for late night but “The Daily Show” is easily the late night show I would recommend to any college age kid if for some reason they aren’t already watching.
“The Colbert Report” – With his ultra conservative persona, Colbert created a phenomenon, but in its seventh year, the joke is starting to get a little stale. Like the friend who is always sarcastic, the joke is getting old and repetitive. If your desperate for more political humor after watching “The Daily Show” feel free to stick around; otherwise, I recommend others on this list.
“The Tonight Show” – Even those who don’t watch TV know Leno isn’t “cool.” Traditional, and subsequently boring, as it gets, he does however deliver the best monologues in the genre. Check out the first fifteen minutes if you’re passing out early, otherwise go with the crowd and proclaim that you’re “too cool” for Leno.
“The Late Show” – At one time the edgier alternative to Leno, Letterman was revolutionary in his own time but unfortunately, like Leno, that time that passed. The most exciting facet of the show today is the question of who may replace him when he retires in the next few years.
“Late Night” – From its inception the show was designed with the digital age in mind. Featuring YouTube friendly segments, a contemporary band and even video games as a popular media, Fallon is conventional to the format late night TV but updates it for the college crowd. As far as conventional late night goes, Fallon is an easy recommendation to anyone watching late night television in a dorm room.
“The Late Late Show” – Ferguson pushes the conventions of the genre to its limit and it may be too strange for many normal viewers, but the show is consistently funny. My personal favorite, Ferguson and his robotic sidekick Geoff effortlessly capture the laid back spirit of college life.
“Conan” – After all the drama of the great “Conan/Leno Conflict,” he’s landed on his feet at TBS. His new show is still fairly traditional and even though it’s aimed at viewers our age, I only recommend it as the safe alternative if Ferguson is too strange for you.
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” – Kimmel has carved himself a small but respectable niche, and occasionally he raises his notoriety with viral, celebrity filled sketches that permeate well on the Internet. Recommended to the friend insistent on being alternative, look for the show to become more mainstream and possibly more relevant with its timeslot moved to 11:30.
“Chelsea Lately” – Shorter and faster paced with an emphasis on celebrity culture, the show has succeeded in capturing a large and loyal young female audience. “The late night show your girlfriend watches” may seem derogatory, but I bet the show would gladly take the title as its female viewership crushes other similar shows. If you already watch the E! network, “Chelsea Lately” is easily the late night program for you.