Where Are the Women on Late Night Television?

It’s official: after some speculation, NBC has announced that The Tonight Show’s torch is being passed from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon, this time for real (sorry, Conan!). 

Not only is Fallon taking over, but the show is being moved back to New York City (Johnny Carson brought it to Burbank in 1972). Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels, who already produces Fallon’s current show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, will now be executive producer of The Tonight Show. As if this wasn’t already an SNL fest, writer and “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers is likely to become Fallon’s replacement.

I won’t miss Leno, and although Fallon at times is just too much of an eager beaver for my liking, I enjoy his show when I tune in (his thank you notes segment is my favorite), and I think he will do well at The Tonight Show. It bums me out that it’s leaving LA, but since NY where Fallon is, the move makes sense.

I just wish that we had more women in late night television. I should give props to the E! Network for giving us Chelsea Lately, despite the fact that I think the show is beyond boring and embarrassing for everyone involved. They also gave Whitney Cummings her blink-and-you-missed it show Love You, Mean It, which was also apparently awful (I never saw it). Why are the big networks – NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox – afraid of giving women a late night show? Do they think people won’t watch it? That men won’t want to hear jokes being told by the ladies? Back in the 1980s, Joan Rivers was a permanent co-host for Carson on The Tonight Show, and even had her own late night show for a while – the world didn’t stop spinning, did it?

If someone is funny, I will watch them; I don’t care who they are or where they’re from. However, it’s sad that women aren’t represented at all on any of the big late night shows. This has been addressed time and again – both with people complaining about not enough women being on writing staffs, to the stupid argument that “women just aren’t funny” – but I feel compelled to bring it up again with this news.

Sure, Seth Meyers seems charming and I like him well enough on “Weekend Update,” but I would love to see a woman take over for Fallon. If we’re going down the SNL route, how about someone like Maya Rudolph? If Amy Poehler wasn’t on Parks & Recreation, she would make an amazing host. I know that there are countless women out there in improv comedy classes that would be able to step into the role – who says you need to be established to be a talk show host?

Even if we don’t get a woman in there this time (which, let’s face it, we won’t), I sincerely hope that sometime soon steps will be made where we can get some funny women on late night television. Shoot, I have some quick-witted friends who make me laugh until I cry every time we get together; I can share their numbers if necessary!

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Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

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