If Fox wants Red Eye, the satirical politics/culture late late late night talk show, to survive without founding host Greg Gutfeld, they need to act fast. Sure, they have regularly won the 3 a.m. time slot—but it’s the 3 a.m. time slot.
Fox has bigger plans for Gutfeld, but they should let Red Eye be a launching pad for their next witty star. The experiments at guest host have yielded wildly different results. Here are the grades so far of the most likely suspects:
When JoNo first joined the Red Eye cast, it took me a while to realize her act was… an act. I really thought she was ditsy, but funny, and mostly there for eye candy.
Once she settled into her role, she has proven to be no-such- insky. In fact, she has already given me more “I wish I’d said that” moments than Kimberly Guilfoyle has in all her years on Fox News; and she hosts competently.
Verdict: Joanne Nosuchinky is essential to Red Eye, but not ready to be in charge… yet.
“TV’s Andy Levy” is the other essential element of Red Eye. His dry wit and libertarian sensibilities, along with his ability to make fun of himself, make him the ultimate straight man and the perfect complement to Greg Gutfeld—or any outgoing and smart host.
However, when he hosts, the show just drags. Pauses are not only pregnant, they come to full term. He’s superb at reacting, but too dry for initiating or jumping in when the pace drags.
Verdict: Andy must stay with Red Eye and, along with JoNo, anchor the panel. But if he becomes the permanent host, the show will die.
If Tom Shillue and Greg Gutfeld did a road tour, it would come across as a conservative Smothers Brothers—two really funny guys you know were the dorky crowd in high school.
Shillue’s monologues, “A Moment with Tom,” are the closest thing to Gutfeld’s “Gregalogue” and he is a smooth, quick and affable host. He also has enough of a show-business background to bridge the show’s equal emphasis on politics and pop culture.
Verdict: Shillue is the closest thing to Greg Gutfeld as a permanent host as Fox is likely to find.
The quick-witted comedian is a terrific TV presence, whether a guest or a host on Red Eye. He plays the guest liberal—though an anti-PC one—to great advantage in either role. Oh yeah, he’s also black.
Unlike most Fox liberal men, Small engages in real conversation, doesn’t fall back on cliché, and says things he actually believes. He’s hosted easily the funniest shows since Gutfeld left.
Verdict: It would be a revolutionary move to give Sherrod the show, but I doubt that Fox will build the show around someone who is neither a conservative nor a libertarian.
The quick-witted libertarian MTV veteran keeps the pace moving as both a guest and a host, though she seldom says anything that the next day I find particularly brilliant or quotable.
But Fox has been investing in her a lot lately, and she is telegenic, smooth and smart. Her satirical sense fits very well with the show, as does her libertarianism — but it was edgy to be a person of the Right on MTV. On Fox? Not so much.
Verdict: She would be a safe and solid choice as a permanent host—but Red Eye is not supposed to be about safe and solid.
Gavin McInnes is a great TV and internet personality and his essay “Transphobia is Perfectly Natural” (most of which I wish I had written myself) got him hounded from his job at Rooster (which he co-founded) and his piece taken down by the cowards at Thought Catalog.
No one blows up the PC culture of the new sexual “norms” more bravely and hilariously than McInnes—not even Gutfeld.
Verdict: McInnes is a terrific host, though the brass might think his quirky, prickly Scotsman act is better suited for reacting to conversations and blowing them up, than in being tied down to host duties. But I would watch every night.
The dry-as-a-martini Canadian comedienne might be expected to have the Andy Levy problem of awkward pauses; but as host she paced the show every bit as well as the more polished Kennedy — and was infinitely more funny.
Verdict: Ditto Sherrod Small verdict, female version.
The former Cheers writer and founder of the fine website Richochet.com is a smart and engaging guy, with excellent insights into pop culture and Hollywood. He’s also just too laid back for hosting duties.
Verdict. Good guy, good panelist, not host material.
Veteran stand-up comedian Jim Norton is a frequent guest and a funny guy (also appears on Louie) but a complete bust as a host, looking as comfortable as a thistle in a jockstrap. He is good for politically incorrect and vulgar outbursts as an occasional guest. Period.
Verdict: Lord, no.
Bottom Line: Give it to Tom Shillue. Giving the show to either Shillue or Kennedy are the safest and most likely choices. Either would work, but the nod should go to Shillue, if Fox wants the show to continue roughly along the same lines. Use Gavin McInnes as much as possible.