You Be the Critic: The Return of Late Night TV

After two months off the air in support of the WGA strike, LENO, CONAN, LETTERMAN, FERGUSON and KIMMEL all returned to the airwaves with brand new episodes.

Which begs the obvious questions: Am I the only TV Addict who thought LENO was the most entertaining host of the night? Was anyone else incredibly disappointed my Letterman’s low-key return and thinks its time for Conan and Kimmel to shave their beards? Post away with your thoughts.

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  • Tarn

    Well, I haven’t seen any of last night’s shows (wrong side of the pond), but I did attend a recording of Kimmel last year and found him desperately unfunny, even WITH writers.
    Some people can overcome bad material (the natural entertainers), some can ruin good material. I’d place Kimmel in the latter group, and Leno in the former! So, no, I’m not surprised Leno did well.

  • theTVaddict

    Tarn, well said.

    While this may not be the popular opinion among ‘critics’ — Leno’s biggest strength is that he’s a great people person and a fantastic interviewer. Conversely, Letterman always seems to be put off my interviewing guests, as if its beneath him.

  • Pinwiz

    Craig is back, and I was very happy. What else is there?

  • fred

    Sometimes I’m disappointed by the things I read here…

    I mean, I did not watch all shows, only their “monologues” except for Letterman, and while I may disagree with what you said – I liked Conan’s opening best I think, and did not found Letterman to be bad. I mean, he was as “good” as usual, but I was never a fan of his. But it was all you could expect from him I’d say, and he had great stuff –

    But what I can’t see is why you, who call yourself theTVaddict, seem not to care that Leno did write his own monologue, he wrote jokes and while that may have been funny and entertaining, that was also against the WGA rules!

    Don’t you care that Leno, writer & WGA member, broke the rules and is therefore helping the networks and not the writers, don’t you support the writers and want the strike to be resolved asap ?

    Cause supporting (what) Leno (did) or promotiong reality TV is not the way to do it…

    Apologies, I love you still ;)

  • JennyC

    I totally agree with you TVAddict. Leno was the best host and comedian. He has the best chops when it comes to stand-up since he still tours around the country doing stand-up. Also, he is the person I think that if I were famous, I would be most comfortable in his show. He has a great and endearing personality. In my opinion, he is the current king of late-night.

  • theTVaddict


    Truthfully, I’m not that familiar with the Strike rules to comment on Jay’s monologue. I sort of assumed, perhaps incorrectly so, that as long as he wasn’t using his writers, it was okay to fire off jokes.

    Were they written? Off the top of his head? They were obviously thought out ahead of time. But did he put pen to paper?

    I 100% support the writers as I’ve stated on numerous occasions and I hope the WGA clarifies with Leno the rules. But how is what he did so different from Conan’s opening?

  • fred

    Well, I’m no expert myself, but here’s the statement that the WGA send out when the first rumors were out that late night shows might be coming back without writers (so back in December) :

    The Strike Rules, among other provisions, prohibit Guild members from performing any writing services during a strike for any and all struck companies. This prohibition includes all writing by any Guild member that would be performed on-air by that member (including monologues, characters, and featured appearances) if any portion of that written material is customarily written by striking writers.

    It clearly states that they should not write anything. I haven’t heard an official comment from the WGA since Leno’s show, but I’m not sure they liked it…

    As for Conan, while of course all hosts had to have thought of what they’d say, I feel like most of it wasn’t written, no jokes at least (I don’t count his comments on the strike and his support for writers as writing)

    Leno on the other hand clearly had material (jokes) written down, like the divorce joke at McCartney amongst others. He even admitted to writing the jokes himself…

    Leno’s monologue was pretty much like any other monologues he’s done before with writers, while Conan did not had one of his usual jokes about whatever he feels like joking that day, instead he had people watch his beard. I just don’t think that’s the same…

    (I obviously know you support the writers, I just wish no one would watch games or reality TV, or Conan, Leno or any late night shows without writers, if only to pressure networks into going back to at least even TALK!)

  • annsensei

    I’m not an expert either, but I thought that it was ok if you wrote your own material, but not ok if you had others help write it. I know that they protested when ellen went back to work, but they haven’t made a big deal about jay or conan.

    as for last night, I thought jay’s monologue was WAY better than david’s!!! david seemed out of sync, maybe it was the beard that was throwing him off. lol ;-)

  • Jason the TVaholic

    A recording snafu didn’t allow me to see what Conan or Ferguson did last night, but I was able to catch Leno and Letterman. Kimmel still sits, so far, unwatched. So, of the the two, Leno was definitely the most entertaining of the night. Although, on the rare occasion that I actually watch late night TV, I would normally watch Leno’s monologue over Letterman’s anyway. As for whether or not Leno broke strike rules to do so, it sounds like all sides, Leno, NBC and the WGA each have interpreted the rules to their advantage.

    I just wish that all sides would stop all this silliness and get back to the table already!!!

  • Wlm

    I would say I am pretty much polar opposite. I think the winner of the night was blatantly Craig Ferguson. His innovative, no-guest, all brilliantly performed writing was executed fantastically and his energy was the best of the group. I think Conan came in second overall. I don’t think it’s because of anything he said as much as the fact that I admire that he made it pretty clear how important the writers are to him, but in a humorous way. He almost did the show inconspicuously begrudgingly to make a point, but still get laughs. Letterman seemed ‘off’ to me, I didn’t laugh much at all. Not a good sign for him, since he has writers, but I appreciated the digs at the AMPTP! He definitely knows how to get a point across admirably. Leno was appealing to me in that ‘train wreck’ sense–he was completely floundering. The show was unbelievably mundane the first night, though it’s been somewhat better the last two nights. Perhaps he needed some warming up? I don’t know. Overall, though, there was absolutely no contest for me. Craig Ferguson performed fantastically and has done so each night since.

    Kimmel? I can’t be bothered wasting my life to watch such drivel. Not worth wasting DVR time anyway.