Late-Night Comeback: Humor Resurfaces as TV Hosts Return Post-Writers Strike

03.10.2023 posted by Admin

Late-Night TV's Revival: Comedy's Comeback Quest

Five months have passed since the late-night TV hosts had the chance to deliver their usual stand-up monologues, which have been a comedic commentary on American daily life for nearly seven decades.

Now, it's time for them to search for humorous material once again.

Following the conclusion of the writers' strike, the four major network late-night shows are set to return this Monday night. That means the return of two Jimmys, a Seth, and a Stephen - namely, Kimmel, Fallon, Meyers, and Colbert - to the stage and in front of the cameras.

Although there's plenty of potential, numerous questions linger. The recent history of late-night television has been marked by a decline. Advertising revenue for major late-night franchises, including "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central and the enduring "Saturday Night Live," dropped from around $700 million in 2018 to just over $400 million in 2022.

This decline is primarily due to a significant drop in viewership. Ashwin Navin, the CEO of research group Samba TV, reported that major late-night shows have lost as much as 50% of their audience.

The root cause of this decline is the diminishing relevance of linear television as a medium, especially among younger viewers, who increasingly favor other sources of video content, such as streaming services and the internet.

Proponents of late-night argue that it remains a unique and irreplaceable form of original television. Attempts to replicate it, usually without the topicality aspect, on streaming platforms have largely failed.

Late night, much like sports and news, offers immediacy. It shares this quality with the remaining rationales for linear television. It's a form of entertainment best enjoyed fresh, which makes missing out on all the comedy opportunities over the past five months particularly frustrating.

So, what are the chances that the late-night hosts will find humor in all that they've missed?

Indeed, the daily routine of late-night writers, including the hosts themselves, revolves around examining the day's news, identifying noteworthy subjects ripe for mockery, and crafting 10 to 20 jokes in the classic format: setup, pause, punchline.

Before the five-month-long strike, the worst fear for late-night writers was a series of uneventful news days.

Now, that's no longer a concern. If anything, the writers and hosts have likely been frustrated by the wealth of potential material they missed out on - as evidenced by the first late-night show back, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," which briefly touched on the comedic goldmine from the past five months:

The coronation of Charles as the king of England, a missed opportunity for late-night to lampoon the pomp and extravagance.
New York Rep. George Santos, known for his serial fabrications, pleading not guilty to 13 federal charges, including alleged misuse of campaign funds and false financial statements.
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert caught on tape doing the hand jive at a performance of "Beetlejuice."
Hunter Biden's legal rollercoaster, with mentions on Fox News rivaling those of psoriasis remedy commercials.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of a private mercenary group named after German composer Richard Wagner, attempting an insurrection against Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, only to retreat and face an unfortunate plane crash.
The simultaneous releases of "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer," one about a plastic doll and the other about nuclear destruction, setting the box office on fire, with "Barbie" becoming the first billion-dollar film directed by a woman.
A former U.S. president facing three indictments, including obstructing justice, conspiring to steal a state election in Georgia, and attempting to overthrow the entire democratic system, all within a span of two months.
Taylor Swift attending football games with her rumored new boyfriend, Travis Kelce.
At least, the late-night shows will have a shot at joking about the last one, assuming the romance survives a Jets game.

Adding a five-month hiatus to an already shaky romance isn't typically a recipe for long-term commitment.

Nonetheless, the main hosts remain fully engaged, as demonstrated by their collaboration on a strike-inspired podcast called "Strike Force Five," a reminder of why Kimmel, Fallon, Colbert, Meyers, and Oliver are delightful and incredibly funny companions for an hour of entertainment.

They're all back, so enjoy their humor while you can.
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