Why late night hosts are suddenly so political

Don’t underestimate the shattering impact of technology on the entertainment industry, even technology that doesn’t seem revolutionary any more, like the digital video recorder. I can remember the last time I watched the late-night TV shows, and do you know why I watched them? Because that’s what was on at 10:30 at night. I don’t know how old you have to be to remember this—maybe 30, maybe 35—but there was a time when that’s how we watched TV. We turned it on and flipped through channels to see what was being broadcast at that particular hour of that particular day. It has been at least 10 years since we had to do that, which is great progress, but it really takes away the captive audience for the late-night shows.

If I now have a backlog of “The Great British Baking Show” on the DVR, or streaming shows on Netflix, or YouTube, or whatever, then I’m going to watch that in a heartbeat over Kimmel or Colbert. I hate to burst your bubble, but back in the day Leno and David Letterman (especially Letterman) could be pretty hit or miss. Even Saint Johnny of Carson, Peace Be Upon Him, wasn’t 100 percent reliable. Sometimes Carnac the Magnificent delivered the laughs, and sometimes, believe me, he didn’t. There are many times I would almost certainly have watched something else if I had the option.