Analysis: Late-night hosting is a dream job for some, but it's a lot harder than it looks
April 25, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 27.3%. 2 min read.
LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN -- Episode 1810 -- Pictured: Host David Letterman on June 25, 1993 -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Many people still believe that being a late-night host has to be the easiest job in show business. In reality, Bill Carter writes, it's scary, crazy, flop-sweaty hard. Here's what stories from behind the late-night desk reveal about what it takes to make it.
(CNN Business)Over the past 30 years, I have reported and written a lot about the American institution known as late-night television, and one big thing continues to surprise me: Many people still believe that hosting one of these shows has to be the easiest job in show business.
I have gotten to see and learn a bit about the idiosyncrasies of late-night hosts in my years covering the genre for the New York Times and writing two books about the format, "The Late Shift" and "The War for Late Night. " The idiosyncrasies can be vastly different, from superstitions about clothes to pre-show food consumptions, but all of them are related to the unrelenting pressure of a high-profile job.
That was a brilliant move, but Paar's real claim to fame was a personality that one of his writers -- and later late-night host himself, Dick Cavett -- simply called "dangerous. " Paar was unpredictable to the point of, by his own admission, "being totally unable to hide how I feel. " He proved that in 1960, when he walked off the "Tonight" show for a month over NBC's censoring of a joke that used the term "WC. " (In the story, a woman confused a "Wayside Chapel" with a "WC," or water closet -- a. k. a. a toilet. )
Carson hesitantly did, and the king of late night found himself as joyful as a kid breaking into the business when Letterman used even one of the jokes on the air.
Once, Carson casually suggested to Letterman that since they both had houses in Malibu, they might get together sometime -- to which Letterman replied, "And do what?" Letterman set the standard for quirks and rituals among late-night hosts.
Stephen Colbert sent a creative charge through late-night when he managed to host a show for nine years as a sketch character.
Every host who has lasted for a sustained run in late-night finds out the same thing: When you come into people's homes, into their bedrooms, every night for weeks and weeks and years and years, you may be wearing make-up, performing an act and exaggerating your character in the endless search of laughs.