Letterman Out, Ladies In: 11 Women Who Could Take Over ‘Late Night’

Our humble suggestions for Dave's replacement. Which should be a woman, of course.

Dads across America are still reeling from Thursday’s surprise announcement that David Letterman would retire in a year, give or take. The wider world, however, is recovering from the shock and moving on the the next stage of grief: Acceptance.

Though the big changeover won’t happen until 2015, the hunt for a replacement has already begun. The Hollywood Reporter reported that CBS had previously tried to sign John Oliver to a hosting contract, before he made the jump to HBO, perhaps signalling an intent to go in a younger direction with the newest of late-night royalty.

I argue that the network needs to add another adjective to its wish list of host qualities, alongside “younger”: “Female.”

Take a look at your DVR backlog of late night shows (you’re too old to stay up that late every night, you have things to do) — it’s a real sausagefest. Love you to pieces, Jimmy and Seth, but it’s time to throw a lady into the network TV mix. Like, really.

Is it really accepted that aging white dudes are the only ones with the chops and likeability to draw in audiences? Think about how much of a jerk you’ll sound like if you agree with that sentence, then choose one of our 11 fantastic female suggestions to root for as the next hostess with the most-ess of “Late Night.”

Tina Fey

Duh. Duh. Everyone has a nice crush on Fey, and it doesn’t hurt at all that she’s proven herself as a funny-but-fair host not only behind the Weekend Update desk on “Saturday Night Live,” but is also America’s Goofy Sweetheart after her stint with the Golden Globes, not to mention a little something called “30 Rock.” She’d be a safe but great choice, and we already know from her “SNL” years that she can adapt to the schedule of a late night show. Bonus!

Plus, have you read “Bossypants”? Lady means business. Imagine her doing Jon Stewart-style interviews that you tweet the next day with “surprisingly thought provoking, lol.” (And a wag of the finger to you, because “lol” should not be used like punctuation.)

Amy Poehler

Again, duh. While this would mean that the greatest comedy about local government, “Parks and Recreation,” would be no more (um, guess Leslie’s taking that Chicago job, eh?), it would be a worthy sacrifice if it meant getting a little Poehler on the daily. She’s sweet, likable and funny, but no nonsense. Plus, the physical comedy possibilities here are endless: Please let us live in a world where Amy Poehler arm wrestles the Rock on national TV. Please.

Amy Schumer


We’ve been inside her (what?) for two seasons now, and just watching Schumer being interviewed, like in the Ellen Show clip above, shows that she’d be a fantastic interviewer. She may not be allowed to reprise the majority of the jokes from her accurately named Mostly Sex Stuff stand-up tour, but she’s been in the biz for about a decade now, and has more than proven she has what it takes to anchor a late night show. (What it takes: The ability to successfully photobomb Hemsworths.) And, hey, she’s already said she’s in, sooooo…

Mindy Kaling

First of all: TV gods, make this happen. OK, yes, next: She’s smart, she’s outspoken, she’s proven that she has it together to run a show and she’s young enough that she could beat out Letterman’s three-decade record as longest serving late night host. Yeah, we said it.

Just imagine: She could revive Things I Bought That I Love as a segment (miss you, Mindy Ephron) and us ladies at home would have even more opportunities to gawk at her outfits and go, “Oh, I tried that on at J. Crew the other day! So cute!” For those who think she’s ditzy: She went to Dartmouth, wrote a book and co-wrote a gender-bending show based on the imagined lives of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. It takes a next-level brain to even contemplate the inner workings of the Damon.

Nicole Byer

You know and love her on MTV’s “Girl Code,” and you’d love her even more behind a big stately desk. Why? Because the late night world needs a shakeup that only someone who understands the true meaning and importance of drunk brunching that Byer could provide. Oh, and she’s irreverent, quick on her feet and could draw a younger audience to supplement the army of dads that make up usual late night audiences.

Julie Klausner


We listen to her once a week on How Was Your Week, but maybe it’s about time we see comedian Julie Klausner’s face more regularly. She’s already tweeted that she thinks Chelsea Handler is what’s up in the Late Night-sphere, but the Internet tends to disagree. So do we, after watching her make things as inane as drinking coconut water on camera entertaining, as above.

Chelsea Handler

Oh, Chelsea. Chelsea Handler used to be our sole ovary-having beacon of hope in the late night atmosphere, but she’ll soon depart from E’s “Chelsea Lately.” Whimper. We say there’s still room for her on TV, perhaps even behind a mighty oaken desk on CBS. Lose the gossip panel, add more sketches, keep the fantastically uncomfortable and aggressive interviews, and we’ve got a show!

Grace Helbig


Here’s a lady who knows the value of a fantastic one-liner. For example, a recent tweet: “Brushed my hair today. #AprilFools” Helbig would crush a monologue. She already produces daily videos on YouTube, and her massive Twitter following means that the ground for hashtag games and memes is already ripe. Sow the meme seeds! Plus, she’s educational: Just watch her teach you how to fall down in the clip above.

Maya Rudolph

She already played an Oprah-esque talk show host on the now-defunct “Up All Night,” why not give Rudolph a shot at the real-life throne? She’s versatile, funny and totally underrated. Plus, she can just do, like, half her interviews pretending to be Beyoncé, which is really something network television needs more of.

Retta

Treat yo self to the greatest late night show ever. You know Retta’s not taking sass from anyone. Her live-tweeting of TV shows (she was so distraught after a certain “Good Wife” drama went down that one of the actors called her) is a good example of how plugged in she is to pop culture. We love us some Donna, but we need more Retta in our lives. She can get it.

Liz Cackowski


You may not yet be familiar with Cackowski, but watch the above clip and be prepared to want more and more and more. Cackowski’s Jeannie Tate Show, in which she plays a soccer mom tormenting/interviewing celebrities in her minivan while shuttling her kids around to karate practice and detention, is awkward, charming and watchable. On a network show, Cackowski would excel at the bits and parodies Jimmy Fallon is known for. Bonus: She’s married to Akiva Schaffer of The Lonely Island, so cameos and fantastic music are a given.