Late-Night Laughs: As Audiences Return & Summer Ends, Variety Talk Shows Find New Energy & Momentum

Late Night has also had an increasing number of in-studio guests. It was real and was nice people got to see such a raw conversation about addiction and recovery,” says Shoemaker. “You were really watching two friends discussing things that you don’t usually get to hear them discuss. One, Meyers’ friend and former Late Night writer John Mulaney, nearly broke the internet earlier this month with a frank conversation about his addiction issues and announced he was having a baby with new girlfriend Olivia Munn.
“We also work in America’s Christmas building. He adds that he’s looking forward to a decent run, having spent the summer on and off screens and agrees that late-night is in a really positive place right now. “You can get some momentum,” he says. We really feel it here.” The tourists are back, Broadway is back, you feel the fall is an anticipation of that, it ticks us over.
“Everyone’s excited to be back and have a bit of road in front of us,” agrees The Late Late Show’s Crabbe.” />
I think all of my peers feel the same. The Late Show’s Licht says, “I’m very optimistic and I think you’re seeing that on the screen. Let’s get back to business.”
Kimmel, who said that some people thought he was dead, in rehab or recovering from Covid as a result of his contractual summer vacation, also recently addressed his late-night future. His contract is up next year and he told Howard Stern this week that he vacillates as to whether he will sign up again.
Another host who is making a similar decision is James Corden, who Deadline revealed this week was in contract talks with CBS to extend his run on The Late Late Show.
is also back with an in-person audience, as Friends star Jennifer Aniston discovered when a number of super-fans with Aniston-inspired tattoos turned up in the El Capitan Entertainment Center. Jimmy Kimmel Live!

He admits that there are still challenges, particularly surrounding the health and safety protocols and the expense that comes therewith, but that the staff has also discovered a newfound nimbleness to production. Licht says that he’s been “blown away” by the effort of the team on the show, which also recently debuted a brand-new opening credit scene.
A year ago, Licht’s voice would have been one of the only sounds audible, but this time, his reply somewhat drowned out by the raucous noise of a live studio audience in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Colbert said it was “lovely to be back” and joked that exec producer Chris Licht thought his new facial hair would lose him viewers.


Timeslot rival Late Night with Seth Meyers is also bringing back an audience in October, as revealed by Deadline this week.
The plan is now to get out and shoot more outside. “We can definitely do more [now] because we’ve figured out how to shoot safely. That’s allowed us to reignite the field team to get out there,” he says. The whole thing has been a learning process for everybody. “We’re always trying to come up with new ideas and things to shoot. As everyone comes out of this dark place and the world opens up a bit more, I think there’s going to be a lot more opportunity.”
I thought we’d have full audience with no masks. Kimmel, who once again took the summer off with the show peppered with guest hosts, returned on September 7. However, the LA-shot show isn’t back to a full audience just yet. I leave you people alone for two months – you start taking horse worm medicine,” he joked on his first show back, fresh with a new chandelier. “When I left, I assumed things would be back to normal when I got back. I was ready to get back to French kissing the guests and yet here we are masks, half an audience.
Both The Late Show and The Tonight Show were off and on across July, August and the start of September.
Corden, who took all of July and most of August off, is evidently, glad to be back, riffing with his colleagues at the top of the show and forcing CBS late-night chief Nick Bernstein to ride a prop horse dressed as a jockey.
The host has been back in front of a crowd since June 14 and it has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the show, as it has done for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live!
She highlights the fact that kids went back to school, and New York has been buzzing with events such as the Met Gala, the MTV VMAs and Broadway’s return. “There was definitely a freshness, an excitement and an energy,” she adds.
Noah joked on his first show back on September 13, after a summer break, “I would have kept doing the show from my apartment but I started to have problems with the wi-fi so I decided building an entirely new studio was easier than calling Spectrum.”
She joked that she’d forgotten how cold studios are. “It’s so cold that I’m kinda of happy I'm wearing a mask, I'm considering layers.”


You can tell when a joke lands or bombs,” she adds. Jimmy really felt it and he’s so appreciative. Granet-Bederman says it’s “possibly the most exciting feeling ever”. “It was incredible. The Tonight Show has also had a live studio audience in 30 Rock since the start of June.
Showrunner Jen Flanz tells Deadline that it’s a great feeling. “Starting the next chapter of The Daily Show has given us all some juice. Also, getting out of our apartments after a year and a half is reinvigorating.”
The CBS series is also bringing back guests, in pairs, with the likes of Gillian Anderson and Cedric The Entertainer appearing together and Nine Perfect Strangers’ Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy coming on next week together to return it to its “salon” feel.
 “There’s a rejuvenated sense of purpose,” Licht tells Deadline. You didn’t have that last year because of all of uncertainty with the pandemic so it does feel a little more like a traditional return.” “You can see it with all of the shows, there’s been a turning point. We’ve taken a bit of the wandering through the wilderness out of the equation and now each show can get back to what they do well.
They have now flipped it back, in anticipation of a studio audience, but have built a wall for now to keep that closeness. He says that they’re having that conversation now as to when they will bring back a crowd. The Late Late Show flipped its set around when Corden and the crew returned to the studio last year to make it more intimate. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can flip the switch when it’s time to have an audience back but we haven’t nailed it down exactly,” he adds.
Jamie Granet-Bederman, co-showrunner of the latter, says there’s a feeling of being back now. “Late-night is the type of thing that you have to be on for a long time to get your groove so when we came back on September 7, everybody was ready to go,” she tells Deadline.
“It was quite nice, he got very emotional about it,” she adds. Vin Diesel, for instance, was visibly moved by the audience reaction when he was on the show to promote F9 and he and Fallon unexpectedly went into the crowd to show their appreciation. Guests are also back in the studio and similarly appreciative of a live audience.
The Late Late Show is known for his centrepieces such as Crosswalk The Musical and Carpool Karaoke. The show had its first automobile singing in some time earlier this month with Camila Cabello, Billy Porter and Idina Menzel. It was the show’s first Carpool, other than the cast of Friends singing I’ll Be There For You in June, since March 12, 2020.

The Daily Show also has a new energy, thanks to its move from Trevor Noah’s apartment to a new studio in Times Square.
“It was nice to put some people back in the car.” “We’ve always been a big pop variety show and a lot of those elements fell by the wayside during the pandemic but we’re now starting to get our legs under us and be able to carefully shoot the things we want to shoot,” Crabbe says.
There’s a looseness that we weren’t able to pursue before that the audience would tolerate,” he tells Deadline. You now try and get back into a groove.” “James is having a lot of fun doing it, we’re having a lot of fun making it. Exec producer Rob Crabbe says the way they’re making the show has brought the crew and staff a bit closer. Summer’s over, and we’ve put our heads down and got back to work. “We’re definitely in it now, there’s a back to school vibe.
Exec producer Mike Shoemaker says the challenge will be melding the voice of the show as it has focused on the home audience for the last 18 months with a crowd. “You don’t want to turn your back on the people who carried you for the year and a half, which was the home audience. “It’ll be really fun the first time that Seth does a joke and it doesn’t work and he’ll say ‘Oh, yeah, you guys’. That’s when you’ll hear me laugh the hardest, because nothing makes me laugh as much as when something goes wrong.” There’s a relationship, so the challenge is to bring the studio audience into it but not lose that audience,” he says.
As the fall season kicks in and the late-night teams wonder whether Conan can prevent Last Week Tonight from picking up its sixth straight Emmy win this weekend, there is a beautiful optimism in the air across the genre.
“Overall, the show’s energy is back and we’re focused less on those ancillary things and more on the core mission of entertaining, which is all anyone wants to do,” he adds.
But I don’t know. When I have to make that decision, I will make that decision,” he said. But we’ll see. I think I know sometimes, and then when it comes time to make the decision, then I feel like I don’t know. “I love not working. It’s really so much better than working, and the ideal situation is having people do my job for me while I continue to get paid.
Stephen Colbert bounded on to the stage of The Late Show on September 7 with a new look. The comedian was rocking a new moustache as well as a rejuvenated energy.
Doing the press junkets, it was probably just another thing on their to-do lists, but everyone that’s been here is joyful and seem excited about it and they’re excited to get out on stage,” Granet-Bederman says. “It feels that when people come on, they’re actually really happy to be here. Late-night shows have had to deal with celeb interviews on Zoom for much of the past 18 months so to get them back in the studio allows them to play more games and do more segments. For instance, Trevor Noah was on The Tonight Show and they came up with a rather silly game called First Try.

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