Why aren't there any women late-night hosts in the US?

Letterman, Leno, Kimmel, Conan, Fallon, Ferguson, Stewart, Colbert, and now Seth Meyers.

Why are there only men?

I’m sure this has been noticed by others, so what are the leading hypotheses as to why this is the case?

Well, it’s not absolutely true.

Joan Rivers had a late-night show for several years in the 1980s, when the Fox network first premiered, though the show was a ratings disappointment, and didn’t last long. Currently, Chelsea Handler has had a late-night talk show on E! since 2007.

You may as well retitle this “Why aren’t women funny?”

Last I checked the bullet points are:

  • In studies anonymous male/females are rated similarly for humor, males with a slight edge. So theoretically there’s not some huge gap.
  • If the gender is known, males are considered funnier. The funniest female jokes will be remembered as from a male.
  • Female speakers receive fewer laughs than male speakers, even with female only audiences.
  • Ditto with female/male bosses, and female bosses tend to make more self deprecating jokes. If they try to imitate male colleagues they’re seen as mean spirited.
  • There’s much more pressure on men to be witty than women, since women actively seek out humor from their partners. Men don’t care if their partners are funny, only if they laugh at their jokes.

So I dunno, check back in 50-100 years maybe?

They tried it with Joan Rivers 25 years ago, and it didn’t work, so no one, since, dares risk his job with a “bold” decision. (Chelsea Handler’s show is a “niche” show)

That being said, they’re probably missing out on success through innovation. Whitney Cummings, for example, might be ideal for the Late, Late Show being vacated by Fallon.

Thirty years ago, Letterman was considered a gamble. Twenty years ago, Conan was considered a gamble. Times change, as do audiences.

Are there any male afternoon talkshow hosts?

I remember Rosie as being wildly popular and Ellen now even more so but I still don’t see their shows being as popular at night.

Currently? I have no idea.

We used to have Donahue, Geraldo, Jerry Springer(if you call it one), Tony Danza, Mario Lopez(I think), Wayne Brady, and very recently we had Jeff Probst.

Steve Harvey.

There used to be more male afternoon talk show hosts. When I was a kid, the big names were Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas. There’s also Phil Donahue, who came later.

I don’t see any reason a woman couldn’t host a late-night talk show. It would take a special woman, but hosting one of these shows takes a special person regardless of gender. Many talented people have tried it and flopped.

As for Joan Rivers - she’s a polarizing person. Many people can’t stand her, me included. Her failure was partly due to that, and partly due to the fact that she pissed off Johnny Carson.

Chelsea Handler.

Not necessarily. Someone can be funny, but not suited for late-night audiences.

Interesting. Any links to these studies?

Some thoughts I had as to some potential reasons:
[li]Latent sexism in American society, which has not gotten over its perception that “Male is the default gender”[/li][li]Women’s looks are emphasized in our society, so when a woman is on TV, a certain percent of our “bandwidth” is focused on how good or bad she looks, and so we give less attention to how funny she may be. Guys are sort of invisible, in terms of looks, so when they make jokes, our full attention is on their jokes.[/li][li]Men may be more boundary-pushers and risk takers than women (due to nature and/or nurture) and what makes for a successful late night host has a lot to do with pushing boundaries and taking risks (similar to why the majority of CEOs are male)[/li][/ul]

How many hosts of talk shows in the UK/Australia/Canada are female?

Same thing I was going to say.

There was also Stephanie Miller who has a late night show in the mid-90s. I don’t think it lasted very long though.

It’s a tangent, but I’m wondering why so few people seem to know that Seth Meyers is replacing Fallon. Weren’t both his takeover of the Tonight Show and replacement announced around the same time? What little research I’ve done seems to have the announcements being at most a month apart.

As for the main topic of the thread: While Chelsea Handler does do her own Late Night Talk show, it does also do the panel format, and that part seems to be the funniest part of the show (besides maybe the skits) based on audience laughter.

So maybe the traditional late night talk show format just isn’t all that great for female comedians. There does seem to be different styles of jokes between the typical male and female comedians.

In the book We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy, some of the comedians and comedy writers interviewed talk about the issue of beauty as it related to female comedians. Basically they said that there’s a lot of pressure on women, especially women who want to be entertainers, to be beautiful and sexy…but that being beautiful and sexy isn’t particularly funny.

If you want to be a stand-up comic then the consensus seemed to be that it helped to be perceived as an underdog, an outsider, or at least somewhat goofy or quirky. That’s difficult if you look like a beauty queen. But on the other hand, a less-than-beautiful female comic may not get the same opportunities for exposure as an equally funny less-than-handsome male comic.

Wanda Sykes had a talk show for a few years on Fox. It was… not good, and I say that as a big Wanda Sykes fan.

Don’t you think Lisa Lamanoodles is funny? I sure don’t think she is funny.

As a matter of fact, I think she is just downright repulsive and that’s not funny at all.

Whenever Bonnie Hunt appeared on Letterman I thought she’d be good as a host of a talk show. Then I found out she was, in Daytime, and then she stopped, and that was that.

Is this thread about her or something? I looked up and didn’t see anyone mention her as a talk show host. Did she host one?

Wikipedia says it only lasted about 6 months. Maybe it felt like years. :slight_smile: