Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Vote for Late Night 2009? Patton Oswalt

While I am happy that Conan O'Brien is going to be behind the big desk of the Tonight Show starting in 2009, I am worried about what is going to happen over at Late Night.

You see, there are two names currently floating around for this empty slot: Carson Daly and Jimmy Fallon.

Carson Daly currently has a show following Late Night called Last Call... and much like a bar at Last Call, there is little mirth there left as all the entertainment has left the building. And there is the fact that he isn't a comedian and really, not much of a personality either.

And well Jimmy Fallon... you know, that guy who starred in Taxi with Queen Latifah and is rumored to star as Major Nelson in the remake of I Dream of Jeannie, the guy who couldn't keep a straight face during sketches on Saturday Night Live? Yeah, that guy. I'll admit that the fact that he played Carson Daly on SNL gives him an edge over the former host of TRL, but really, even I have an edge over him. I don't think he has the stuff to fill that chair particularly well either.

I know that when Letterman left that slot in 1993 and Conan O'Brien ascended to those relatively lofty heights, there were a lot of naysayers then claiming that he had no business helming a talk show, and this may seem like more of the same, but there is a big diffence in these situations. Conan was truly an untested commodity, while the limitations of Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly are clear today.

But rather than merely kvetch about the people who are in line for that throne, I thought it would be better to suggest an alternative.

Patton Oswalt.

When you look back at the almost three decades of Late Night, you will notice something profound... the comics who hosted it were sort of geeky and that worked for them and Patton Oswalt with his pop cultural sensibilities would fit well with that aesthetic.

He is also willing to take a joke to its natural conclusion, even if it makes him look foolish to get the laugh. His delivery is very natural and conversational, and I think he would probably be very adept at the art of interviewing.

He has experience working within a writer's room from his stint at MadTV and managing a show from putting together the Comedians of Comedy tour. And because he was a featured player on The King of Queens, he has some additional face recognition with Middle America and experience working on a show week in and week out while at the same time, Oswalt also has quite a lot of cache because of the edgy nature of his comedy. He is the best of both worlds: an affable, genial personality with quite a lot to say.

Now I don't even know if he would consider such a position, but I think if he was interested, NBC should at least give him a shot, as he is far and away a much better choice than either of the personalities they are currently rumored to be after.

So, given the choices out there, who would you hire for that position?


Mr. Fabulous said...

Hmm...your choice intruiges me. I only really know him from his King of Queens work.

I trust your judgement, though.

Jeremy said...

I lost interest in late night talk shows some time ago, replacing them with the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and South Park. I just can't bear watching celebs shilling their latest movie - ironic, seeing as I write about them so often.

MC said...

Mr. Fab: You should check out more of his comedy on Youtube etc. I think he would tickle your sensibilities as well.

Jeremy: I think Jay Leno has done a great disservice to the late night talk show, and it is reflecting badly on all of them, though I must say that on some levels Jon Stewart plays the same game that you accuse his peers in late night talk of playing.

SamuraiFrog said...

There used to be an art to doing a talk show; more variety. Carson used to care about doing a quality show. So did Letterman, when he was still at NBC. Leno lowered the bar for everyone, limiting himself to brief appearances by celebs shilling a movie and then reading typos out of a paper. Almost everyone has lowered themselves along with him; even Jon Stewart has become an absolute crashing (and worse, predictable) boor to watch.

The only people I like in late night right now are Craig Ferguson, because he lets people talk more in an attempt to be interesting, and Conan O'Brien, because he at least remembers that his show is supposed to be funny.

While there is part of me that says go ahead and give it to Fallon (imagine, no more Jimmy Fallon movies for years!), I would watch Patton Oswalt in a heartbeat. You have some good reasons delineated here; not only would he be funny and warm and just a joy to watch, but think of the friends this guy has that could make that show something special--Brian Posehn alone would be hysterical.

Besides, why should NBC interrupt Jimmy Fallon's natural career path that ends with him hosting a game show on Animal Planet.

Jim Squires said...

To be honest with you, I think I'd rather see Oswalt start with a stint on The Late Late Show (I know, different Network, but whatev) - it just seems more his style, and it would be a good proving ground for him.

That being said, I always thought Ferguson was a terrible choice. Not that I don't like him (He gets a very deep and passionate "meh" from me), but at the time they were rotating hosts to find a replacement, Bob Saget was the best of the best. It broke my heart when he didn't get full time hosting duties.

I'm going to call it right now and say that we're going to see an upset in the late night world just like we did when Letterman left NBC. The next how of Late Night will be... Jimmy Kimmel.

Mayren said...

I like him but sometimes he comes off as just trying too hard. I caught him on an HBO special a long time ago.

Diesel said...

I haven't watched late night tv for years, but there is a very young comedian who was a correspondent on the Daily Show who was absolutely hilarious. Wish I could remember his name. Anyway, he'd be great.

MC said...

Samuraifrog: When Carson first got the the Tonight Show, the format was very rigid(guests had 10 minutes, no matter how good or bad they were) and it was only after he got his old game show producer back that the format was reenergized. If you were tanking on his show, he had the freedom to cut the interview short, so there was pressure for a guest to be entertaining. I don't think that pressure exists anymore, and the format is suffering because of it.

Jim: But you are still agreeing in principle that he does have the chops to host a show. I will say that Craig Kilborn was probably my least favorite late night host, and I didn't see the replacements work their magic because of the bad taste in my mouth, but knowing what I do about Saget, I could see him carrying that off.

Mayren: I would argue that at some point every comedian could be accused of that.

Diesel: I wish you could remember his name too. Could you give me a bit more information, as I may be able to help you remember.

Jim Squires said...

I definitely agree that Oswalt could pull of late night, but I think that the flavour of each channel and timeslot necessitates a certain type of performer. Late Night just isn't an Oswalt platform in my books. Mind you, even Last Call would work. I think he needs to be in that small-but-cult-following market that go on right after the big names.

MC said...

Jim, I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree about this ;)

Jim Squires said...

I don't agree to that! :p

MC said...

Ok then.

MC said...

I'm laughing now because when I was looking for this entry, I found another one from July 2006 where I was talking about Shiloh Pitt and I mentioned a reference to Late Night with Patton Oswalt