Who would be the best possible "Tonight Show" or other late show host?

With all the brouhaha about Leno and O’Brien, it’s become clear that neither is the ideal host for the Tonight Show or a 10 PM talk show. Leno is too safe and boring, and O’Brien seems to only appeal to a niche audience.

With that in mind, let’s pretend you are in charge at NBC and can (at least try to) fill the Tonight Show slot by hiring whatever host you want.

Rules: Your suggested host has to be living, and there should be at least a slightly realistic chance you could hire them. You goal is to make a good show that gets strong ratings. This person should be capable of bringing in BOTH the older audience that watched Leno AND the younger audience that watched O’Brien, plus some new audience members.

My suggestions:

  1. Jerry Seinfeld - Had the most popular show on TV in the 90s, and still has enough of an edge that he might attract younger viewers. I don’t know if he has the ideal personality for a host, but that didn’t stop NBC from hiring Jimmy Fallon, did it?

  2. Jon Stewart - To me, he is far and away the best choice. He has the experience, the popularity, and the talent to pull it off.

Who else is out there? Are my picks terrible? What do you think?

Bette Midler

Jon Stewart is the only one I know of with the experience and requisite skills. Let’s go out on a limb with his sidekick though. I’m gonna pine for Rodney Carrington.

I tried to watch Conan for the first time ever last night. Since I can’t say anything nice…

Michael Essany.

One of the most consistent knocks against both Leno and O’Brien is that neither one can conduct a decent interview, so let’s get that out of the way immediately. The new host has to be able to conduct an interview.

The host also has to be funny, of course, look and sound good on camera and be able to represent the network’s franchise. Having a built-in fan base would help, too. A long-standing relationship with NBC might ease some of the management squabbles that keep coming up.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Tonight Show with Brian Williams.

I’ve never been disappointed with his appearances on talk shows. Dude’s freaking hilarious.

A long time ago The Tonight Show became a vehicle for film companies and music labels to whore their latest wares.

Back when Johnny did the show he would have people on just for the hell of it. Don Rickles or Groucho weren’t hawking anything. Sometimes guests would show up to promote a new film or the like, but these types of guests were few and far between.

What I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t matter who hosts these types of shows. They have become formulaic, predictable infomercials with about 3 minutes of smirk-worthy material during the monologue.

Not really – they were pretty common. Johnny would have guests simply because they were good guests, but the show was often used to promote movies.

Like Carol Wayne.

With Jon Stewart as his sidekick. Or maybe Williams can be the sidekick. Or maybe they can alternate every week.

I would never miss an episode.

When Dave Letterman was out for a while after surgery, Vince Vaughn was a guest host for an episode or two.

I did not actually get the chance to see the show when he was on, but I remember a columnist (was it Robert Feder?) writing about how he thought Vaughn was a great host, engaging the audience and shmoozing the guests very well.

I like Vince Vaughn, and I like the character he typically plays, the rapid-fire talking, slightly schlubby everyguy, but he has to have a really good movie for that character to work. I don’t think it works so well in a bad movie, and how long can he make movies playing that character over and over?

So bring in Vaughn.

You could always count on Bob Hope going on Carson to promote his next NBC special. But he never stayed around for the 2nd guest. If your show was not on NBC they said it was on “another network”

I remember when Carson decided not to do that in one of his final shows. He just said, “Who cares? We’re gone in a few days. What network is it?”

His guest said, “ABC”

And Carson said, “ABC. OK, so everyone tune in to watch.”

It was pretty cool of him.

Absolutely. In addition to talk shows, Brian Williams has had some great cameos on other shows (30 Rock, for one), and I saw him live in New York when he was the guest on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, and his segment (subsequently edited when the show aired) was one of the funniest (and most interesting) bits I’ve ever seen, better than just about any professional comedian.

Though he’s by far the best of the network newscasters out there, I think his comic talents are absolutely wasted in news.

One time Tony Randall had a new show. He asked Carson to say the alphabet - after Carson said “ABC” Tony said “That’s the network my new show is on!” :slight_smile:

I honestly think the format is played. What sets Jon Stewart apart is his political commentary and interviews, which he would not be allowed to do on The Tonight Show. Vapid celebrities plugging movies and CD’s is just not very fascinating to watch. Some of the non-interview bits can still work, but the interviews are really the meat of the format, and as long as that element is simply a never ending stream of promotional segments, the talk format can never rise above being a facilitator for product.

The kind of change I would like to see is not so much getting the perfect host, but completely revamping the interview segment to include only people who have something interesting to say, and to disallow promotion of any product.

TDS gets fairly close to what I like, but even Stewart still does some fluff interviews.

You know who does good celebrity interviews? Howard Stern. He gets them off script from talking about their latest stupid movie, and about how great it was to work with Ron Howard, and gets them to actually talk about some of the reality of their lives and what it’s like to be them.

Craig Ferguson tries to do that sort of thing as well. It’s more interesting to hear about the guests as people, rather than just their job.

I think it would be outstanding if some of the regular old guests & guest hosts would come in on an alternating basis. Have no publicity on who that night’s host will be and folks will tune in to see if it’s Don Rickles, Steve Martin, Dom DeLuise, Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall…

I’m sure the viewers would be in stitches if Dom DeLuise hosted.

Dom DeLuise - Wikipedia

duh…I just got replaying some of the old scenes in my head and his name went down onto the keyboard. Yes, he is dead.

But you get the idea.