Comedy Central's Life After Stephen Colbert

Comedy Central's Life After Stephen Colbert

Who could make a suitable replacement for Stephen Colbert in the Comedy Central lineup once he jumps ship to The Late Show next year?

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Totally agree on Jessica Williams. I would definitely watch her show if she were to take Colbert's place.
But did you seriously just praise Megyn Kelly? The idiot who threw a shitfit last year about Santa and Jesus being white? Don't make me laugh.

I actually really like all these ideas, mainly the 3rd though. As someone who isn't really committed to a single end of the political spectrum, it would be nice to see the Daily Show followed up by something coming from the other side for a nice balance. But I do see the flaws with that one, and Jessica Williams certainly does deserve a show of her own. I wouldn't object to extra Daily show though.

I think there's probably a reason why Jason Jones and Samantha Bee have never "graduated" from The Daily Show. I often enjoy the bits that they do, but I really can't see either of them actually headlining anything. They're both like those characters that are hilarious just as long as they don't get a whole episode. It would be like an entire "Scully and Hitchcock" episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine.

I really think Comedy Central just really lucked out with Stewart and then again with Colbert. Their chances of filling Colbert's time slot with a show that lasts for more than a few seasons is pretty slim.

EDIT: Oh, the third idea was interesting. It would have to be the good natured kind of ribbing since any political show will have to keep a liberal bent to do well. The failure of those other shows doesn't really matter.

My idea: Combine ideas 1 (or 2) and 3 and make it a spoof of the sort of "debate" shows that admittedly aren't nearly as popular as they were when nominally-neutral CNN was the only game in town. And I'm not talking about playing the both-sides-are-always-wrong angle (we get enough of that from South Park); I mean that having a character representing each side would give them the opportunity to lampoon whatever bullshit happens to be going on, regardless of its source.

The main reason I don't favor options 1 and 2 is that we're no longer living in a world where one side is always right. In the same way that Colbert's character worked better when O'Reilly was at his peak, it was a lot easier to write a show like his when the country was being run by a president who hadn't done a single defensible thing since the Do Not Call List and whose opposition was more or less powerless to stop him. Fast forward to roughly last year, and we've got a Democratic president who's doing legitimately controversial things. Other satirical shows, like The Daily Show or NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, were free to make fun of stuff like the NSA wiretapping scandal, because they didn't profess to any particular viewpoint other than making fun of stupid wherever it may be. Hell, even actual left-wing pundits take shots at Obama when the situation calls for it. But Colbert has to take the Republican side of every single debate in order to stay in character. I haven't watched Colbert since I got out of college and didn't have free cable anymore; how has he been coping with situations like that?

Steve the Pocket:
My idea: Combine ideas 1 (or 2) and 3 and make it a spoof of the sort of "debate" shows that admittedly aren't nearly as popular as they were when nominally-neutral CNN was the only game in town.

They did that. It was called Crossballs and it went away shortly after Stewart destroyed CNN's Crossfire (it technically existed for a few weeks shortly after, but almost everyone pegs this moment as when Crossfire was done).

I think extending the show and reabsorbing the writers who Colbert isn't taking with him would probably be a good option until Jones and Bee can afford to do a nightly show again (they've been tossed around as potential replacements for Colbert the moment they found out he was moving the CBS as co-anchors of a dysfunctional news broadcast) or Jessica Williams can figure out a good pitch (She is by far one of the best talents on the Daily Show, but new shows that aren't already attached to something have a nasty habit of being canceled and I would hate for her show to get the ax just because she wasn't doing as good as Colbert). They already have to cut a good chunk of the sketches in order to cut it down to 22 minutes with the interview, and about a third of the interviews have to be posted in full to the internet. Extending it to a full hour could give them more time to do both.

Why not just give The Onion a TV show? Their news parodies have been consistently brilliant for years online, surely a network version could be a success. And in general they've managed well at the neutral poking-fun-at-everyone schtick.

The Gentleman:
I think extending the show and reabsorbing the writers who Colbert isn't taking with him would probably be a good option until Jones and Bee can afford to do a nightly show again (they've been tossed around as potential replacements for Colbert the moment they found out he was moving the CBS as co-anchors of a dysfunctional news broadcast) or Jessica Williams can figure out a good pitch (She is by far one of the best talents on the Daily Show, but new shows that aren't already attached to something have a nasty habit of being canceled and I would hate for her show to get the ax just because she wasn't doing as good as Colbert). They already have to cut a good chunk of the sketches in order to cut it down to 22 minutes with the interview, and about a third of the interviews have to be posted in full to the internet. Extending it to a full hour could give them more time to do both.

This. Stewart has good rants that are often cut for time, and being able to hand off segments to up-and-coming comic reporters has done them a lot of good in the past. Let John Stewart continue being, as Bob called it the 'cool professor', and give Jessica Williams the chance to develop full bits under his wing, like Colbert before her.

Of the listed ideas, I agree that Jessica Williams would be the strongest just because she is just a really charismatic, talented person. I'd also be interested in bringing back Wyatt Cenac just because of all the correspondents, he just managed to impress me the most consistently.

The only idea I am specifically opposed to is a longer Daily Show. They have to cut a lot of material, but what stays is often much stronger as a result.

So, "too bad" HBO picked up John Oliver for his "Last Week Tonight" show
I watched the premier last night and they can't deny their origins; not a cookie cut from the Daily Show, but definitely the same format.
With Colbert gone, Oliver might have been a good replacement. For me it is a win as I get my 4 nightsof Daily plus one night Week.

Personally I think they might use Colbert leaving as an excuse to start to wind down other shows like the Daily Show... I'm not sure what the ratings are or whether they've held strong, but I know I rarely watch it when it premieres, rather watching Adult Swim, and then catch the shows in the afternoon the next day. Comedy Central's decision to make "Trip Tank", a decidedly more [as]-like show makes me think that they could be headed in that direction, rather than trying to keep up their satirical or comedy news shows.

I don't think they will end it soon, but I think it might be moved to earlier in the night, and Colbert won't be replaced. It's sort of a bold prediction on my part and it wouldn't be surprising if any of the things Bob mentioned happened, but after a string of super-cheap Tosh.0-like shows failing rather miserably and the new rash of skit shows only gaining moderate success at the very best (with K&P only getting tepid success with the Kroll Show not doing nearly as well, along with everything else they've tried to do recently), they might be looking to switch gears to more "abstract" stuff like Adult Swim or more "everyone is idiots" type shows like Broad City in the vein of Always Sunny and Arrested Development. I don't know if they want to stake their ground so firmly in the political "real life" stuff.

Also, it's hard to parody liberalism because of the dynamics. Not impossible, as Portlandia points out, just difficult. Conservative ideology on its face tries to project a "tough" image, which is easier for clever people to parody. When people try to parody or poke fun at liberalism, it usually ends up trying to project some image of a super-politically-correct effeminate man, and not only is that much more rare than a Hank Hill, but it also seems meaner to make fun of. Colbert not only poked fun of the O'Reilly persona, but also the ideas. Ed Schultz may look like he's going to pop at any given time and Rachel Maddow and his boy ward might be snarky, but that's not really enough to build a show out of. People like O'Reilly and Hannity already openly mock liberals in both style and substance, so parody almost seems redundant.

DirgeNovak:
Totally agree on Jessica Williams. I would definitely watch her show if she were to take Colbert's place.
But did you seriously just praise Megyn Kelly? The idiot who threw a shitfit last year about Santa and Jesus being white? Don't make me laugh.

He wasn't praising Kelly; he was saying that they could do a female version of Colbert's character, and cast Samantha Bee. Sam would be parodying people like Megyn Kelly.

I actually quite like that idea.

i wouldnt mind a bbc news parody

Flatfrog:
Why not just give The Onion a TV show? Their news parodies have been consistently brilliant for years online, surely a network version could be a success. And in general they've managed well at the neutral poking-fun-at-everyone schtick.

They had one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_News_Network didn't make it seo far though :(

I could do with any of them but Sam Bee. She's not funny.

But mostly, Jessica Williams would be awesome. And a huge loss for the Daily Show.

person427:
it would be nice to see the Daily Show followed up by something coming from the other side for a nice balance.

"A nice balance" of what? Other side of what? Stewart's never been particularly partisan in his comedy. He made it big going after Clinton, et al back when they were the big thing. How does one balance out someone who simply goes where the low-hanging fruit is?

Triaed:
So, "too bad" HBO picked up John Oliver for his "Last Week Tonight" show
I watched the premier last night and they can't deny their origins; not a cookie cut from the Daily Show, but definitely the same format.
With Colbert gone, Oliver might have been a good replacement. For me it is a win as I get my 4 nightsof Daily plus one night Week.

I wish it wasn't on HBO, because I'd love watching Oliver again.

hentropy:
Personally I think they might use Colbert leaving as an excuse to start to wind down other shows like the Daily Show... I'm not sure what the ratings are or whether they've held strong, but I know I rarely watch it when it premieres, rather watching Adult Swim, and then catch the shows in the afternoon the next day.

So you think they might wind it down because you don't watch it? I mean, that's literally the only point you make that would remotely support the idea.

I mean, you're right. You don't know the ratings. They've been fairly steadily rising. Their ratings average for 2013 was 2.5 million viewers, which is pretty awesome for cable. I mean, they won't be getting NCIS numbers, but they're still don't strong within their field of play (and outdoing quite a few "real" news shows). I'd be surprised if much of anything on Comedy Central routinely pulled in those numbers.

So why on earth would they phase out or kill that?

Boris Goodenough:

Flatfrog:
Why not just give The Onion a TV show? Their news parodies have been consistently brilliant for years online, surely a network version could be a success. And in general they've managed well at the neutral poking-fun-at-everyone schtick.

They had one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_News_Network didn't make it seo far though :(

Interesting. Still, I can't help thinking that the same thing in the slot just before the Daily Show might have done better.

Well it was a totally different slot before colbert report. Does not have to be a news type show for the rest of eternity. I would like to see something totally different. Hopefully something good though because Comedy Central has been clearing some garbage shows over the past few years that never get a second season or at least should not have.

BarbaricGoose:

DirgeNovak:
Totally agree on Jessica Williams. I would definitely watch her show if she were to take Colbert's place.
But did you seriously just praise Megyn Kelly? The idiot who threw a shitfit last year about Santa and Jesus being white? Don't make me laugh.

He wasn't praising Kelly; he was saying that they could do a female version of Colbert's character, and cast Samantha Bee. Sam would be parodying people like Megyn Kelly.

I actually quite like that idea.

Thing is, whether or not Roger Ailes etc were actually looking for actual news-anchor talent in the Fox Blondes, they found it in Megyn Kelly

Saying she has actual news-anchor talent sounds like praise to me.

Anyway, I agree with the Samantha Bee idea as well, but I find Jessica Williams more consistently funny.

Boris Goodenough:

Flatfrog:
Why not just give The Onion a TV show? Their news parodies have been consistently brilliant for years online, surely a network version could be a success. And in general they've managed well at the neutral poking-fun-at-everyone schtick.

They had one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_News_Network didn't make it seo far though :(

I had never heard about that show. Or the IFC channel for that matter.

As much as I love Jessica Williams (which is a lot) I wonder if she'd prefer to get some more experience under her belt before heading her own show? She hasn't been doing this TV thing very long. [quick web search] ... or maybe she has. She was apparently in some Nickelodeon soccer show I've never heard of in '06.

I actually found page 4 the most interesting in this article. It's not that I find Stewart particularly partisan. He takes the left to task when they do incredibly stupid shit, too. It's just that the Republican party and its vocal allies are particularly ripe for satire these days. John Stewart didn't call his political rally "the Rally to Restore Progressive Values," he called it "The Rally to Restore Sanity."

The thing that interests me about page 4 is the list of comedy shows ribbing the left that have failed, even on Fox News Channel, a network that seemingly would be perfect for it. This feeds into an observation I've made in watching conservative media react to people like John Stewart and Steven Colbert. It seems like they just don't understand, or even like comedy. Maybe situational or observational comedy, but not satire. I'm not painting all conservatives here; I live in an area with plenty of them and in the "real world" I've known more than a few who could appreciate and even tell a good joke. It just seems like the conservative pundits and their die-hard fans aren't the kind of people who like to laugh, unless they can do it while also stroking their egos.

I could be wrong. Just something that's been percolating in the back of my head for a while.

hentropy:
...with K&P only getting tepid success...

Really? That is a damn shame. Key and Peele is one of the funniest shows on the network. Surprisingly intelligent for such a relentlessly goofy sketch show, too.

I love Sam Bee, but I can't envision her parodying Megyn Kelly.

Kelly, is like the Cercei Lannister of cable news. She's always impeccably put together. She has a persona that is feisty and aggressive but often seems to demonstrate a certain level of deferment to her male "betters" on the network in order to keep any intra-Fox disputes hidden.

Sam Bee's characters are always too much of a mess. That's what makes them so lovable, the appearance that whatever segment their doing is a hair's breadth from spinning completely out of control. Whether she's pretending to be a seductive bombshell or an airy-fairy performance artist, she expertly creates the illusion of being a woman whose ambition exceeds her grasp. And part of what makes her so sympathetic is seeing her portray just the right hint of desperation as she goes through her bits. Sam Bee, the character, is in constant pursuit of a dream she will never catch, and that's what makes her like us.

Colbert started out as a similar shtick, with Colbert as an inferior pretender trying to keep up with "Papa Bear", but once he achieved some fame Colbert had the range to move his show in different directions while still keeping the same gag in the background. I'm not sure if I can see Bee doing the same.

What could be interesting though, is if it wasn't just Bee. If the next iteration of the show, let's call it "The Colbert Network" or "Colbert's Angels", was built around the idea that with Colbert's departure he tried to recruit a slew of "news bunnies" to fill his slot. There's potential there for Bee to shine alongside (and in competition with) other women. It would be especially interesting because it could create a "behind the scenes" parody of the FOX News Bunnies, as we watch them be friends one moment and fiercely competitive rivals the next. But most importantly, it would create a vehicle through which female comediennes could talk about issues of concern to women as women. There is a risk that a certain demographic of bros would be repulsed by having so many vaginas in one set without a penis to keep them in line, but I think it could work.

I would be on board for Jessica Williams getting a show. She is hilarious. Every time I see her on the show, I crack. I had about had it when I heard about yet another stand your ground case and her "white fear" jokes were amazing. That must of been a real effort because I was steaming mad and I'm a white guy in Illinois. She knows how to do the job.

DirgeNovak:
snip

That does seem to conflict with this quote:

Late Night TV's status as a perennial Old Boy's Club is notorious, and a female-fronted Colbert successor built on moving the Fox-spoof crosshairs from O'Reilly to Kelly would be pretty damn notable. The obvious ideal host? Daily's Samantha Bee, one of the show's all-time MVPs.

I suppose it could go either way...

I'm sad he didn't mention Aasif Mandvi. Make it a parody of like foreign new networks or just simply focus on world news. I mean it might be a little... racisty since Mandvi is an american that happens to have brown skin and can pull out a natural accent he gets from his immigrant parents, but I still think it would be funny. Colbert and Stewart had alot overlap in the stuff they cover but with a world view sort of show it would have its own flavor content from Daily Show.

An hour long Daily show would be nice. First half is the current news bits, the second half is interviews. It might be a bit too tolling on Stewart though.

That's a bunch of great ideas well thought out. Great article. I want to add to the whole "make the Daily Show an hour long" thing. They could just give more of a spotlight to all of the correspondents, and divide the opportunity. Comedy Central wouldn't have to pay out the ying-yang for a new host, and all the correspondents can work on their side projects. It's seems like a much safer plan than going for something new. None of these correspondents are on the same level as Colbert was before he got his spin-off. Jessica Williams could be, but it's too early to tell with her.

I seem to be the only person who isn't feeling Jessica Williams.

I think she has great potential, certainly; she's clearly witty and charismatic. But something about her timing and delivery has always seemed just a little off to me, just a little flat. I think a few more years of honing her abilities on The Daily Show could make her the equal of a Samantha Bee or a John Oliver, but I don't think she's there yet. Spinning her off now would be a bad idea.

(Remember that Bee has been with the Daily show for eleven years, Oliver was with it for eight, and Carell for fourteen. Williams hasn't yet finished two.)

 

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