If you’ve been following my blog at all for the past couple of years, you’ll know that I loved The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. In my opinion, he was the most natural when it came down to hosting late night television. I’m not saying he was the most comfortable, because all of the veterans are comfortable at doing what they do. I’m saying that he had a flow about him where everything that was going on felt like a conversation you were eavesdropping on. It was great and something I thoroughly enjoyed watching every single night.
When CBS announced that James Corden would be replacing Ferguson, my first thought was, “Who?” But then I watched Into the Woods and Mr. Corden was great in it. I then watched a few interviews he did and I immediately thought, “Boy, he is likeable!” Corden has this boyish charm that is infectious, which is a great thing to have in late night television. So I was set up in my bedroom, eagerly awaiting for James Corden’s first show as the new Late Late Show host. Just like everyone’s first time, Corden was nervous and the show was slightly bumpy, but overall it was very satisfying.
There are several things that Corden is doing to try and be unique in the late night world. Here are a few:
1. His Opening Monologue.
So far, it seems as though Corden isn’t exactly embracing the typical joke-after-joke-after-joke routine that every late night host partakes in. Even Ferguson, who disguised his jokes very well in a fluid and zany way, told a dozen or so jokes every night. Instead, Corden has been concentrating on one issue, and going on a rant about it. He talked about how there were reports that California will be out of water in a year, and he also explained why the idea of selling draft beer at gas stations is a terrible thing. This isn’t a bad idea, but he hasn’t really been able to fully keep me engaged in his monologue yet. Maybe I’ve developed late night ADD, because while Corden delivers some funny jokes, the way he elaborates on the topic becomes dull fairly quickly.
2. His Interview.
Corden seems very personable, so what’s better than having him interview celebrities without that bulky desk between him and his desk? I love this and just having him sitting right next to his guests on the same level allows him to engage in a more conversation-like interview somewhat like Ferguson (though Corden still reads off questions on his cards instead of ripping them up). In addition, Corden has all of the guests come down at the same time, which has been good and bad thus far. It’s good when the celebrities can get along with each other and still allow Corden to do his hosting duties. Having Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis sitting next to each other for the first show was great. They all laughed and everyone was into the conversation.
Unfortunately, it has backfired more times than it has worked. As he interviewed Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart at the same time, there were moments when the two guests were just cracking jokes and talking on their own, almost forgetting that Corden was there with them. In addition, Corden has been rolling out three guests at a time, something that (in my opinion) has not worked. With three guests, it’s not likely they’re all going to get along and too often does Corden have to talk to each one separately, leaving the other guests to show off a fake smile and twiddle their thumbs until its their turn. The idea is fine, but it’s going to need some tweaking to work.
3. The Band.
The Late Late Show has a band! This is something Ferguson always mocked since he never had a band. In addition to the live band, Reggie Watts is the leader and plays as Corden’s sidekick… think of Watts as the Paul Shaffer to Letterman. While it’s great there is a live band to add more energy into the show, the comedy of Watts is much different than the comedy of Corden. Their dynamic has not panned out quite yet and I’m afraid it’s not going to work until one of them switches their style up. Watts provides a very strange, odd-ball type of dry humor while Corden is more mainstream, friendly humor. Because of the difference, you rarely see the two of them interact during the show, aside from Reggie Watts’ question to the guest. This was a risk that might not pay off.
We all know about all the games Jimmy Fallon plays on his show with his guests. Corden is attempting to follow suit with his own games with the guests, but seriously what can Corden do to top Catchphrase, flip cup, and the lip sync battle? So far, his games have fallen flat. Recently, he had his three guests (Tom Lennon, Matthew Perry, and Aubrey Plaza) guess the correct Google search results from a number of made up results. It was mildly funny but overall it didn’t work. His best game so far was with Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. Both actors couldn’t hear each other and were reading off scripted answers-question cards, seeing if they would read a match. Some of the results were pretty funny, but I think what made it funnier than it should’ve was the actors, not the game.
In conclusion, James Corden should have a pretty loose leash on his run as Late Late Show host. He’s young, he’s energetic, and it’s really hard not to like him. He’ll still need to work out a bunch of things that aren’t working on his show, but it’s all a work in progress. For now, I’m excited to see how he grows as a host and I look forward to watching the Late Late Show for years to come.