Could Norm Macdonald Really Pull Off Being CBS's Next Late Night Star?

For the past week, Norm Macdonald has been on Twitter campaigning to become the next host of The Late Late Show after Craig Ferguson steps down at the end of the year. After comedian Ben Hoffman started the #latelatenormnorm hashtag, Macdonald has retweeted hundreds of folks encouraging CBS to give him gig (full disclosure: I was one of them). While there's no way of knowing if CBS is taking this seriously, or if Norm is actually interested or just doing this for his own amusement, the buzz around the campaign begs the question: could this actually work?

Ever since Macdonald left SNL, he's been looking for a steady gig, and nothing's really stuck. The closest thing he had to a hit was the ABC sitcom The Norm Show, which lasted three years, and was probably funnier than you remember. Since then, A Minute With Stan Hooper and Sports Show With Norm Macdonald were both canceled after a year, while the 2005 sketch comedy show Back To Norm was canceled after just one episode. Macdonald is a well-respected comedian, with a lot of admirers, but so far that hasn't translated into a consistent television gig.

Could his luck change with the 12:35 slot? It's not that crazy of an idea. Remember, this is a time of night where giant ratings are not a requirement for success. Sure, Macdonald tends to be one of the more polarizing comedians around, going back to his SNL days. People either see him as a comedic genius or they wonder how anyone could possibly think the guy is funny. But while Norm's cult following has been too small too keep him on the air in primetime, the late night world is a bit different. If Macdonald can get a decent number of viewers to tune in, and remain competitive with Seth Meyers on NBC, a Norm-led Late Late Show could have some serious staying power. READ MORE


'Rick and Morty', 'Bob's Burgers', and 'American Dad!': Three Cartoons at Three Stages of Life

Due to the nature of animation, cartoons can last a lot longer than live action shows. Characters don't age, so the 4th grade can be played out dozens of times in a row without the threat of puberty ever setting in. But as the 25th season of The Simpsons reminds us each week, that doesn't necessarily mean they should last forever. The writing gets stale, storylines get re-used, and as Lisa Simpson reminded us was when The Simpsons was still in its prime, the characters can't have the same impact they once had. With that mind, let's take a look at three animated comedies at different stages in their runs, and what might happen to each one going forward.

Adult Swim's Rick & Morty just finished a phenomenal first season, where it immediately became one of the funniest shows on television and quickly found a large audience. One of the best things about watching this show is that glorious feeling of having no idea what might happen next. As we saw with Rick's remote that gives us TV channels from other universes, or the amazingness that is Mr. Meseeks, the show's universe allows for endless possibilities. It was hilarious and ambitious from the start, but it wasn't until late in the season that we saw the show go for emotionally heavy material, and thoroughly succeed. When Summer wonders whether or not her parents would be better off had she never existed, and when Morty wonders if he's nothing more than Rick's accessory, it was hard not get a little choked up. So far, this show has succeeded at just about everything it's tried. READ MORE


Why Personality Matters at the Weekend Update Desk

When Seth Meyers did his final Weekend Update newscast on February 1st, he retired from the desk as the longest-tenured anchor to ever hold the position. At 7.5 seasons, he comfortably passed Tina Fey and Dennis Miller, who held the gig for six seasons each. Throughout his run, Meyers was somewhat polarizing, mostly for, well, how un-polarizing he was. To some, he represented Safeness, a thinner, younger Jay Leno who thrived on apolitical humor, and refused to ever truly rock the boat. Others enjoyed his nerdy, boyish charm, and his legendary interactions with Stefon. But whether you liked Meyers or not, he stabilized the Update desk unlike anyone else. That's why his departure is such a big deal, and why Colin Jost, who takes Meyers place alongside Cecily Strong, has a difficult task ahead of him.

Since Chevy Chase did Weekend Update on the first ever Saturday Night Live episode on October 11th 1975, 21 people have had a gig at the Update desk (22 if you count the two episodes where Horatio Sanz filled in for a pregnant Tina Fey, but no one wants to remember that, so let's not). Some of them like Chase, Dennis Miller, and Norm MacDonald, are remembered quite fondly, while the likes of Brad Hall and Brian Doyle-Murray are barely remembered at all. Over the next few years, we'll see which group Jost and Strong wind up falling into.

So, what makes someone a good Update anchor? Obviously, the material needs to work, but what matters more is personality. On any given week, as the writers are throwing on their best jokes on the news of the week, some lines are going to work better than others. The key is having an anchor with a recognizable personality, who can sell the good jokes, and come up with a fast ad-lib during the bad ones. That's why the segment became so popular when Chase introduced it 39 years ago. Between his popular catchphrases ("I'm Chevy Chase and you're not," "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."), and his generally likable goofball personality, he wasn't just a generic news-anchor type who happened to be telling jokes, but an actual Fake News personality. READ MORE


How '@Midnight' Is Turning Its Internet Hook Into One of the Strongest Shows in Late Night

Considering the ever-expanding role that social media in our lives, it was only a matter of time before there was a television program named after a Twitter account. So when @midnight arrived in late October, it felt like a predictable Sign of the Times. What couldn't have been predicted, however, is how funny the show would be, or quickly it would find an audience. @midnight has only been on the air for eight weeks, and yet it already feels like an integral part of Comedy Central's lineup, having secured a 40-week renewal after strong ratings in its initial four-week run.

For the uninitiated, @midnight is a half-hour game show hosted by Chris Hardwick in which three comedians try to earn points (POINTS!) by competing in various internet-themed games. These games include things like Sad Etsy Boyfriends and OK Cupid or Serial Killer, which is exactly what it sounds like. After three acts, the comedian with the fewest points is eliminated, and the remaining two compete in one final showdown to determine who "wins the internet" for the next 23 and a half hours.

The show could've been much different than how it turned out: on an episode of Bill Simmons' B.S. Report podcast, Anthony Jeselnik mentioned that before he began work on The Jeselnik Offensive, Comedy Central had wanted him to host a four-night-a-week show that would air after The Colbert Report. It's not much of a stretch to think that @midnight is what that show became, and while Jeselnik is often hilarious, it's hard to deny that Hardwick is a much better fit. Jeselnik's deadpan-evil personality is perfect for his standup, but it wouldn't have translated to a game show that carries a such laid-back, friendly vibe. Hardwick combines Jimmy Fallon's charm with Jeselnik's willingness to "go there" and not play things super safe. READ MORE