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Thread: Comparing the talk show hosts

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    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Comparing the talk show hosts

    Tonight I'll be watching a documentary about Johnny Carson on PBS. I grew up watching Johnny Carson, and of course, watched well into my adulthood. Leno is so bad in comparison...

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    split from RTDNTOTO
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Geez Maister... split a thread that may have generational issues...

    OK, since you did that, I'll go on...

    My parents were huge fans of Jack Paar, who was the host (the brainy one)before Johnny. But they soon became Johnny fans. My siblings and I got to stay up when Tiny Tim married Miss Vickie. I was found, more than once as a small child, hiding under an end table in Dad's den to watch "The Tonight Show". I was a night owl. Back in the day.. Merv, Mike,Dick,Joey, nope it was just Johnny. He wasn't always hilarious. But it was tradition,back in the day of 3 channels. You younger Cybs, well,you grew up with Johnny or you didn't.

    An edit; that was in the era of entertainment,not analysis or psycho-therapy.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Seems like the 'smart ones' (Conan, Jack Paar, Dick Cavett) are not always the most entertaining when it comes to talk show hosts. I admire the way Johnny was always able to adapt so easily to his guests demeanor. If he got a Jonathon Winters or Robin Williams on, he'd just back off and let 'em do their thing and to heck with asking them any questions. If the guest was some intimidated young starlet, he did a lot more talking and was usually able to draw them out enough to get them talking. Johnny never forgot the show was not about him - something I don't think David Letterman entirely understands.

    Can someone explain Ed McMahon's function? he must have performed it admirably because Conan borrowed the formula too.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I very slightly remember Carson.

    I can't stand Leno. I don't find him amusing in the least.

    I like Letterman and Conan.

    I'm actually surprised these late night talk shows have survived. I'm convinced that the only reason they still get good ratings is people fall asleep watching their late local news and the TV just stays on during the talk shows.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  6. #6
    Never been a talk show fan. Then again, I've never bought in to the cult of celebrity either. At the end of the day, they're just people. Some are fun to watch in a train wreck/natural disaster sort of way, but that's it.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Cyburbian
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    I actually like how Jon Stewart and Colbert tend to book authors over celebrities. It causes their interviews to become a lot more intellectually stimulating than what you'd typical see on Letterman, Conan, or Leno.

    Admittedly I'm not sure the Daily Show or the Colbert Report would actually be considered talk shows despite occupying the same time slot.

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I rarely get to stay up to watch them, but I like both Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson. I guess it is because they are on so late, they get to be looser and monkey with the talk show formula more.

    I don't find Leno funny. I also find him grating and uninteresting.

    Conan is very good, but I don't have cable, so I don't see him.

    Letterman is very good, but I think he stopped trying a long time ago. It has been a long time since he had great bits like the Velcro Suit (probably too old for something like that too)

    Carson is the gold standard. He was so smooth and funny. I think he also has the benefit of being far enough in the foggy memory of the past that we forget that some nights his show was mediocre and he ran a lot of reruns. A lot of reruns of old shows. On the other hand, Carson was the last of the network talk show hosts to have non-show biz celebrities on his show regularly. The late Carl Sagan got much of his celebrity because Carson regularly had him on the Tonight Show and asked him thoughtful questions. He also had authors on the show, something you wouldn't expect Leno to be doing.

    By far the best interviewer is not a talk show host per se. Jon Stewart knows when to throw softballs to the celebrities, hardballs at the guests with gravitas, and when to let a guest like Ricky Gervais do the pitching.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    I'm a Conan fan. Don't get cable, so I watch him on the internet some, but mostly I'm fine with my memories. I really actually think Fallon does a good job, and it's fun to watch him sometimes, oh yeah, and Ferguson can be a scream - but without Conan, I find I just don't watch anymore.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Anyone remember Arsenio Hall's talk show? I concede he was generally amiable and almost always engaging.....but can anyone explain what he did wrong?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Anyone remember Arsenio Hall's talk show? I concede he was generally amiable and almost always engaging.....but can anyone explain what he did wrong?
    When Letterman left NBC and The Late Show With David Letterman started on CBS, that pretty much put the nail in the coffin for Arsenio.
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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    How about failed talk show hosts? I seem to recall Chevey Chase and Magic Johnson both making a terrible go at it.

    Personally, I can not stand Leno or Letterman. They suck. They aren't edgy and they aren't funny.

    I like Conan. And if I could stay up late enough I would probably watch Fallon because the few times I have seen his show its been great. plus- The Roots.
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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I like Craig Ferguson, and I prefer Letterman and O'Brien over Leno. Leno is just cheesy now. His appeal seems to be among the 50+ crowd, the same age group that Carson appealed to.

    I enjoy Jimmy Fallon as host of Late Night, but his interviewing skills need a bit of work. Still, I think the show made a good transition from appealing to Generation X, now increasingly comprised of middle agers, to the younger Y/millennial crowd. When Leno finally goes, I can't see Fallon taking his place; there's just too much of a generation gap. Maybe NBC will steal Graham Norton from the BBC.

    Carson Daly ... meh. "Dude, I'm so West LA. Okay, now shoot me saying that from my side. Okay, now overhead, like a MySpace angle. Okay, let's find an cool West LA band to interview, like it's still 1986

    There's one great host that you're all forgetting, though. Howard Stern. Sure, he doesn't host a TV show, but he's an outstanding interviewer, wit a gift for getting his guests to open up.
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    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Personally, I can not stand Leno or Letterman. They suck. They aren't edgy and they aren't funny.
    Ah, you should have seen Letterman in the early days. Back then, he was as edgy as it got on network t.v. He had brown hair and what would now be considered hopelessly tacky clothes. But he was young and funny. Yeah, really, young. But then, you had to be young and edgy back in his first days.

    Anyone thinking about the non-entertainment talk shows? I think Phil Donadue was the first one who went "non entertainment only" and did "issues". Then we had Jerry Springer and Oprah and Dr Phil and on and on...

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    How about failed talk show hosts? I seem to recall Chevey Chase and Magic Johnson both making a terrible go at it.
    Didn't see either but the speed with which both were cancelled says volumes about how good they probably were. Speaking of failures, remember when Johnny used to go on vacation - something which happened with increasing frequency as he approached retirement. They'd have guest hosts (that's how Letterman got started) ranging from very good (e.g. Letterman) to mediocre (e.g. John Davidson) to downright awful (e.g. Johhn Denver). You might stay tuned with John Davidson if you had a real raconteur like Tony Randall as a guest, but if John Denver was hosting it was time to go to bed.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    hey'd have guest hosts (that's how Letterman got started) ranging from very good (e.g. Letterman) to mediocre (e.g. John Davidson) to downright awful (e.g. Johhn Denver).
    Not too many people remember David Letterman's morning talk show. I watched it quite a bit when I was a kid during summer vacation from school. It was strangely out-of-place for the time slot; kitschy and offbeat, and probably a decade or two ahead of its time.

    You can find anything on Youtube now.

    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    . . . Maybe NBC will steal Graham Norton from the BBC.. . .
    I dunno. I think Graham might be a little . . . uh. . . fabulous . . for mainstream America.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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