The Late Shift: 'Gutfeld!' Tops Kimmel, Fallon in Ratings

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Gutfeld! Is Movin’ On Up

Yeah, I totally cribbed the beginning of my headline from the book and movie about Jay Leno and David Letterman jockeying to take over for Johnny Carson.

Speaking of Carson, late-night television is still reeling a bit nearly 30 years after his retirement from the genre that he defined for three decades prior to that. Carson didn’t invent late-night television, it just seems as if he did.

Carson was a giant who was never going to be replaced by one man, no matter how talented. In different ways, his torch was passed to both Leno and Letterman, although Dave probably doesn’t see it that way. There have been some interesting things done in late-night since Carson left the scene. Leno and Letterman were huge successes, obviously. Conan O’Brien has done some quirky fun stuff over the years. For my money, Craig Ferguson was the best of the post-Carson bunch.

They weren’t Carson, but they were still entertaining.

The current trio that has dominated late-night television for several years doesn’t want to entertain you, though. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and, to a lesser extent, Jimmy Fallon, want to browbeat you with their personal political opinions.

It’s beyond dreary.

It looks like some of that is finally changing:

More from The Hill:

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld’s new late-night show recently topped traditional late-night broadcast shows “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Gutfeld!” averaged 1.6 million viewers for the week ending May 14, beating Kimmel on ABC and Fallon on NBC, though it trailed CBS’s “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Nielsen data shows.

May 13 was the Fox show’s best night so far, with 1.8 million viewers, placing second only to Colbert’s show, which drew 1.9 million viewers. Gutfeld’s show beat Colbert slightly in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic.

The stunning news here is that Kimmel, Fallon, and Colbert are each on one of the Big Three broadcast networks, all of which have much bigger built-in audiences. Greg Gutfeld is swinging at them from a cable news channel. This is a real David and Goliath affair here.

And let us remember that Fox News Channel isn’t exactly the 800 lb. gorilla in cable news that it once was.

FNC hasn’t always known what to do with humor. When Gutfeld was hosting Red Eye, it aired at 3 a.m. Eastern, and received almost zero promo from the network. I was on the show quite a few times from 2009-2017 and the vibe was always that we were kids throwing a party while the parents were out of town. It was a blast. Still, it felt as if FNC would prefer not to know that we were there at all.

When it was announced that Gutfeld was going to launch a new weeknight show that was intended to compete with Colbert, Kimmel, and Fallon, the first thing I did was wonder what FNC would do to screw it up. I had no worries about Greg, but I thought that the network might decide to get a little handsy with the creative process.

So far, so good.

Greg Gutfeld is providing entertainment for the half of the country that is routinely ignored by mainstream entertainment media. Yes, he talks about politics, but he’s always been about having some goofy fun too. Colbert and Kimmel were emo harbingers of doom the whole time that Trump was in office and they’ve not really recovered from that yet. They’ve permanently blurred the line between comedy and preaching, and it’s boring.

There were negative reviews of Gutfeld! all over entertainment media during the show’s first week. They’ve all been kind of quiet about this news. Gee, wonder why.

If Gutfeld can continue challenging the Big Three hosts this way it will be a monumental achievement. He’s punching hard at some heavyweights and doing real damage while they continue to miss.

And he’s obviously having fun doing it.

(Speaking of entertainment for the other half, I’m doing podcasts, video, and non-political columns five days a week for our VIP subscribers. Come hang out with us.)