Ferguson: Late night television, a sea of men
For the last sixteen years, Jon Stewart has been the face and voice of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, the popular political comedy. But recently Stewart announced his plan to retire from his position and give someone else the chance to shine. While the question of why he was leaving was discussed among audiences, so was the question of who should replace him. While the jury is still out on any certain person to fill Stewart’s successful spot, I have my own ideas of who shouldn’t: another man.
Primetime late night television is a monopoly of middle-aged white men: Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, John Oliver, Conan O’Brien. Need I go on? Now the problem with this pattern is not that these men aren’t funny, because they are. The problem is that these men are just that, men. Where is the female representation? Late night television is run by males. And that’s a problem.
Flashback to many moons ago. A young female comic is given her own late night show on Fox. Her name is Joan Rivers. Sadly, Joan’s show was cancelled. Almost thirty years later, and there has yet to be another female host in late night primetime television.
Comedienne Kathy Griffin was highly interested in replacing Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show last year, but was told that women would not be considered in the search for his replacement. They ended up choosing James Corden. Who’s that, you ask? Another white male.
Women are being completely shut out from primetime late night television. Female representation has been confined to daytime talk shows and the occasional cable late night show, such as Chelsea Lately, Chelsea Handler’s former show on the E! network.
This whole debacle goes back to the outdated and misogynistic myth that women aren’t as funny as men. Which is complete and utter bullshit. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat through a conversation with a man explaining why that statement is true, I would have enough money to buy NBC and make myself a late night host. When my male friends make the comment that I will never be as funny as them because I’m a female, it takes every ounce of self-control to not rip their throats out. I get it. You’re from the 1800s. I’m sure you support accusations of women being witches for having opinions too.
Women are funny. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kathy Griffin, Mindy Kaling, Kristen Wiig, the list goes on. I could spend hours writing about the funny females I aspire to be. They inspire me and countless other young women hoping to get into the comedy business someday. But women are not given equal opportunities as men, making it hard to envision a future in the business.
The last two Golden Globe Awards were hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and they killed it. Imagine if either of them were to have their own late night show. These women can do no wrong. Remember when they were on Saturday Night Live’s weekend update desk? Genius. When people claim that women can not be funny, they disrespect the hard-earned careers of these women and countless others.
For the patriarchy which is late night television, some lucky women have been blessed with the opportunity to enter the writers’ room, but the majority of the writers are still male. Women have been given the ability to write for these shows but are not allowed to speak for themselves. By including women into primetime late night television, a new voice and perspective may be included into the conversation. When every male host makes a joke in his monologue about the same thing, it gets tired and played out. Now, imagine a woman’s perspective on the same occurrence. It’d most likely be different and would most likely be funny.
If Comedy Central does not choose a woman to replace Jon Stewart, then they have missed a great opportunity to make a difference. Women can do anything men can do. Including hosting a late night show.
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