For years, mainstream pop culture has refused to give half of America a late-night television show to call its own.
So Fox News stepped in.
The right-leaning platform introduced “Gutfeld!” — hosted by the network’s regular cut up, Greg Gutfeld — in April. The show wasn’t an overnight sensation. It took a few months for that phrase to officially apply.
Now, he’s at or near the top of the late-night ratings heap, depending on what metric you consider. How did it happen? Why are audiences flocking to a talk show with no “A-list” guests like Will Smith or Tom Hanks, a modest budget and the need for a cable subscription to consume it?
Gutfeld Isn’t the Flavor of the Month
Late night shows often skew young, and platforms turn to untested talent to hold down the comedy fort. It’s why NBC took a risk on an unknown “Simpsons” scribe named Conan O’Brien many years ago. The principle also applied to Trevor Noah, tasked with replacing late night icon Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” in 2015.
Gutfeld is different. Fox News viewers have been laughing with, not at, him for more than a decade. His TV comedy debut, “Red Eye,” drew hosannas even from some liberal critics. Gutfeld worked without a net on that groundbreaking show, and audiences gobbled it up.
He’s also no stranger to conservative viewers. In fact, they’ve grown to like and trust him with their satirical slams. So when he officially became a late night alternative, he already had a sizable fan base to fall back on. His audience only grew from there.
It’s the Bias, Stupid
Talk about leaving money on the table. Every late night show either leans to the Left or topples over placating progressives. A few shows aren’t so political, but when humorous push comes to shove they’d sooner smite Tucker Carlson than AOC.
The major platforms surveyed the existing late-night landscape and said, “we need even more progressive talk.”Enter “Desus & Mero” and “Ziwe” (Showtime) and Sam Jay (HBO). Next up? Charlamagne tha God, courtesy of Comedy Central.
That means conservatives have few options when the clock strikes 11 p.m. Now, they do. And they’re acting accordingly.
Comedy Demands Surprise, Not Uniformity
Audiences know more or less what Stephen Colbert will say on “The Late Show” on any given night. They may not know the exact phrasing, but they understand who will be “destroyed” in the process. He’s as reliable as the sunrise, smiting conservatives and giving liberals a pass.
Humor thrives on the unexpected. If we see a banana peel on the ground in a comedy, chances are someone might slip on it, and the laughs aren’t as buoyant as a result. “Late Show” viewers know the angles the host will take each night, and the same is mostly true for Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver and others. Noah occasionally steps away from the progressive playbook, and Bill Maher is becoming more unpredictable with every progressive overreach.
Gutfeld understands that pitfall, and by defying progressive groupthink he catches his crowd off-guard five nights a week.
Gutfeld Is … Weird
The late-night star is by no means a cookie-cutter sensation. His eccentric tastes made “Red Eye” must-see (set your alarm to catch it) TV. Those sensibilities mean he’s open to fresh voices and ideas. Late night desperately needs that.
It’s the opposite of a Big Movie Star interview on “The Tonight Show,” where Jimmy Fallon runs through a pre-screened chat meant to highlight the star’s brand.
Team Gutfeld should send a cookie bouquet to the White House. Yes, the country is in shoddy shape just nine-plus months into President Biden’s meandering reign. It’s also given Gutfeld and co. an avalanche of material. The fake White House set. VP Kamala Harris chortling through dramatic answers. A crumbling economy. A Commander in Chief fearful of pre-sorted softball queries.
The only thing missing is more Corn Pop stories.
“Gutfeld!” viewers know the other late-night hosts will either ignore all of the above or circle back to it … later in the grand Jen Psaki tradition. Speaking Truth to Power only matters to Colbert and co. when the GOP is in charge.
Colbert and his minions had an ace in the hole during the last four years. Call it… Donald Trump.
The former president was flamboyant, silly, egotistical and erratic at times. He lived down to his brash persona while proving to be a shockingly effective leader. So when late night hosts mocked him it often had a kernel of truth behind it, even when the gags centered on Fake News stories like Russian collusion.
Now? Kimmel and the crowd look downright foolish attacking Fox News, Carlson and Mike Lindell while the country decays around them. It’s even worse when President Biden can’t summon a coherent thought in public appearances and flees from questions like a vampire cowering from a garlic knot.
If the GOP retakes the White House in 2024 “Gutfeld!” will have a difficult task segueing to comedy in a landscape that favors his preferred party. For now, his satire slices through the media’s corrupt attempts to prop up a clueless leader.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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