As a late-night host, James Corden was an anomaly. For one, he was British, which most others are not (I do not know if John Oliver of “Last Week Tonight” counts). Additionally, he was the only late night host to accost drivers at stop lights while dressed like a mouse. Corden’s stint on “The Late Late Show” ran for nine seasons over eight years and had what I’d best describe as mixed reception. Corden’s “Late Late” ran after “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and ended its run in April of 2023. “The Late Late Show” had been a staple of late night television since David Letterman’s time on CBS, where he picked the first host Tom Snyder when the show premiered in 1995. With the cancellation of Corden’s show, the program ended after 28 years.
The time-slot after Colbert’s show ran re-runs of Corden’s program, but CBS soon announced that a new show would take the place of “Late Late.” Based off of a 2013 Comedy Central game show, the network announced in February 2023 that they would be reviving the show “@Midnight.” The following November, CBS announced the program would be renamed “@fter Midnight,” considering the show would not start until 12:37 A.M. That same night, Stephen Colbert brought on a special guest to talk about the show, and stand-up comedian Taylor Tomlinson took the stage to announce that she had been selected to host the new series. Tomlinson has seen great success on Netflix with her stand-up specials “Quarter-Life Crisis” and “Look At You.” At just 29 when her hosting gig was announced, she is the youngest US late-night talk show host of all time.
Tomlinson seems like an obvious choice to host the show. The program’s segments are entirely built off of internet culture, and Tomlinson is one of the most followed comedians on social media platform TikTok with 2.6 million followers. The show tends to be topical in its humor with its format featuring three comedians competing in a series of games (that the show itself claims are meaningless) based on current social media trends. Not all of the segments, however, are based on internet culture. One of the segments was just Tomlinson forcing the guests to do long division. The show is fast, fluid and funny. That being said, it is still in its infancy. “@fter Midnight” debuted on Jan. 17, 2024. In every episode, Tomlinson mentions that the crew and writers are “figuring it out” as they go. At times, that can feel obvious, but the show is consistently charming, placing an emphasis on making the best jokes possible.
I question who the show is for. I assumed the show targets younger audiences based on the fact that it is primarily concerned with internet culture, but the show seems baffled by Generation Z and Generation Alpha, with a whole segment based on decoding younger slang. The guests tend to be older, around their mid-30’s at the youngest, so this makes sense to some degree. During the whole segment, however, I had the impression that the show’s audience is supposed to share in the bewilderment, not laugh at it. I’m sure a more critical look at viewing demographics would show the audience skews much older than I expect. But still, I feel that a show based on internet culture should maybe be more in tune with those who use the internet most.
Taylor Tomlinson’s “@fter Midnight” is a fun show, and a good show. With time, I am sure it’ll become a great show … for the right audience. While it’s still finding its footing, it’s a great watch if you’re up late at night (or looking for something to watch on Paramount+).