Likes: Late night
Hates: Lame guests
From the intro songs to the ending bands and comedians, late night television is entertaining from minute one.
Hearing The Roots’ sing the iconic “Hey, hey, hey, hey!” gives me an intense feeling of epicness before every episode. Andy Richter’s elongated announcing of Conan’s name always manages to leave me with chills. Even Seth Meyer’s confident sauntering onto a stage that he’s only been on for a little over a year and a half fills me with deep respect for the host and his contemporaries. Late night has to deal with a ton of factors in order to provide a well-produced show. For one, the news for the day has to be somewhat interesting enough for the writers to play off of. The monologue is the top of the show, often setting the tone for what’s to come. If the audience isn’t biting at any of the jokes, the show is often bound to be less than fun. Writing, too, has to be top notch. Writers have to provide timely jokes for a laymen audience to get. Jokes can’t be too inside or else writers risk a disengaged audience. Games and other deviances from the main guests are also welcome as they provide variation each night. Then there are the guests, musicians or comedians who also need to advertise whatever project they’re selling while also remaining pleasing to watch. So much attention goes into the episodes produced by late night hosts and their crews. However, they can all succumb to one thing that’s worse than getting zero laughs or lame games: applause breaks.
Now, while I like a good applause break, audiences – or perhaps it’s the producers doing the button pushing (more on that later) – cause the very act to grow stale especially during an hour long show. Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show falls victim to rampant clapping in every episode. Following what seems like every joke, applause breaks go on for seconds at a time leaving me, the at home audience member, bored and wanting more of the host’s jokes. The same thing goes on during Chris Hardwick’s @midnight. In fact, it might even be worse on @midnight. I love Hardwick, I really do, but the people that go to see his show are parasites. Watching the show, we’re left to believe that every single person attending loves whatever it is Hardwick or his contestants are going on about. Weed? CLAP, CLAP, CLAP. A-list superhero like Spiderman? CLAP, CLAP, CLAP. Reference to something not at all obscure from the 80’s or 90’s? CLAP, CLAP, CLAP.
It gets tiresome, more so as the act seems to drag on. If you’ve ever seen The Daily Show, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Actually, that’s the show on which this article hinges its ideals. When I began watching The Daily Show more regularly after high school, I found Jon Stewart’s legion of fans to be difficult to endure. While it’s great for a host to have a following, it’s difficult to enjoy the show as time goes on. This is especially true during Stewart’s more preachy moments. The applause goes on for what seems like minutes – when in reality it’s seconds -- as the show comes to a standstill because the attendees have to show support for someone else’s shared beliefs. I get it; audiences love to agree with whomever they chose to agree with but it gets old fast. Sometimes, I just want to hear the news and not deal with someone’s support of whatever the heck they supposedly love. I’m all for marriage equality but, for the love of God, clapping after every reference to it gets old. I’d love for racism to be a thing of the past but Larry Wilmore has other things to talk about; that wasn’t his last sentence.
For a counterpoint, audiences may have no control over when they clap. I recall when Fallon first began his run on the Tonight Show when they cut to the floor producer for the program. He was pressing a button that led to a sign alerting the audience to clap. If this is a true act, then I place all of my blame on these terrible people. You’re doing a great job running the show, why do you need to pat your own back? It’d be nice to see an episode of Late Night or Kimmel where the audience is left in control over what to clap at.
From what I can tell, audiences really enjoy going to see live tapings of their favorite shows. The Daily Show and Tonight Show are chief among the most active audience driven shows based on clappage. However, for the home viewer, it can become tiresome to have every joke followed with a break for a applause. This ultimately ruins the flow of the host who’s trying to get whatever joke he or she is saying out. But the audience is an important facet for late night as they gauge how well the host and their jokes are doing. Check out recent sketch shows like Inside Amy Schumer and the last couple seasons of Key & Peele as both shows lose audience laughter in the middle of their sketches in favor of more developed material.