For far too long, late night comedy has been so bland that anything and anyone that deviates from the status quo is welcomed. To be sure, late night television is beholden to network executives, censors, advertisers, etc.; the content has to pander to the lowest common denominator. However, prime time television shows like Cheers, Friends (in the first few seasons), The Office, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, The Drew Carey Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, Arrested Development, M*A*S*H, The Simpsons, and many others were extremely funny while adhering to content standards. For example, when Jay Leno hosted The Tonight Show, the writers had no one else to blame for their lazy, unfunny writing.
As discussion continues for a possible replacement for The Late Late Show, I've seen several names bandied about. Unlike the search for The Tonight Show search over 20 years ago, I've finally seen some potential women up for consideration. I sincerely hope this isn't just a perfunctory gesture and only men are getting serious consideration.
But if a man does end up getting it, I'll be a little jaded. That isn't because I think a women should get the job simply because she's female but because the networks already have an abundance of qualified female candidates. Those qualified women are an underutilized resource, and any lack of serious consideration represents a missed opportunity.
I've compiled a brief list of women (past and present) who would have been or who would be ideal female candidates to take over for The Late Late Show — a task that took me less than a minute to complete.
Amy Schumer — Her hilarious video on a woman's experience in the United States military proves that, yes, one can make a funny rape joke. Her material is also a good teaching moment for those "pranksters" who make racially insensitive remarks and call it "satire" as a desperate defense to public backlash. What she lacks in inexperience, she certainly makes up in witty, timely, and original material.
Sarah Silverman — This will never happen, but Sarah is extremely talented. She has been and continues to be controversial from time to time. I hesitated including her, however unlike comedians who are raunchy with no substance, Sarah makes very apt points on our way life. She can be a bit abrasive on the surface, and that will hold her back from a more universal audience.
Tina Fey — In addition to her other numerous entertainment credits, Tina is no stranger to late night comedy. Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Mean Girls, the unforgettable Sarah Palin impersonation, Bossypants, the Golden Globes hosting gigs, and the awards she has received for her talented writing and acting clearly demonstrate she could effortlessly slide into Craig Ferguson's chair.
Ellen DeGeneres — Already a well-established comedian at the time, Ellen would have been a far more affable and unique candidate than Jay Leno for The Tonight Show. For the past three decades, Ellen's material has stayed relevant and original while also improving with age. (She should get to join late night comedy for this bit alone.)
Whoopi Goldberg (circa 1980s) — From her stand up routines to her performance in The Color Purple, Whoopi already proved herself to be a versatile entertainer at the time. She was tackling serious social issues in her material while also injecting humorous, witty commentary. Unlike Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi has not gotten better with age. These days, her presence on The View is just weak.
Jenny Jones (circa mid-1980s) — Yes, this Jenny Jones. Before she did her From Geek to Chic and Stop My Teen From Stripping episodes, she was a stand up comedian and a really good one. (Yes, I know she looks like an extra in a Whitesnake video.) I first saw her in Wisecracks — a fantastic documentary about the history of women in comedy. After her Star Search win, her material got better, and she really connected with an audience. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't have too much of her stand up acts. She would have been inexperienced at the time, but she also would have been a refreshing change.
Any other potential female candidates? Stick them in the comments.