In a world of increasingly complex sociopolitical issues, I feel it is necessary to reflect on the importance of the media. So I ask, who is the best late night host?Letterman? Leno? Conan? Do I dare suggest Carson Daly?
Letterman often has the highest ratings of any late night host, but I think he has his problems. He elicits less information from his guests than the news media did from Clinton. His “Top Ten” is really a top two. I forget why he appears on my list.
Now for Leno-sure, the man’s chin is huge. But does this count against him? His witty and often highbrow stand-up begins the show. He knows how to interview. Plus he owns garages of cars that each cost more than a Lawrence education.
He has Kevin Eubanks, the best late night musician. So is he the best? No. Leno’s jokes and style are often geared toward the educated, older viewer. He simply doesn’t connect with the younger demographic.
Carson Daly, however, connects with the younger viewers. Although he captivates the teenage girls who fell for him on MTV’s TRL, he really doesn’t interest anyone else. His guests are often too up-and-coming or well past their prime.
Last week Daly featured musical guest Nada Surf. Remember them? Seven years ago they wrote “Popular.” Fast-forward to now and they’re still performing it on late night.
Carson tries too hard to be cool. On the Last Call website the FAQ section has the following question/answer: “Q: Can I get a what what? A: HOLLLAAAA!” Maybe I just don’t get it.
So that leaves Conan O’Brien. Why Conan? He entertains. His stand-up presents political humor in a way that most can understand and appreciate, and then he moves seamlessly into interviews. His interviews keep the feel of his stand up-they’re funny and informative.
Most importantly, Conan has the advantage of Comedy Central. His show reruns during lunch or in the late afternoon. The advantage here, at least to me, is the show’s viewing flexibility.
I can sit down and watch Conan while eating lunch or after classes, and save the late night for true late night things, like papers.