Jimmy Kimmel famously said, “not good riddance, but riddance,” to Republican viewers who might be burned by his hard-left monologues.
Greg Gutfeld’s reaction? “Why would you do that?”
The right-leaning comic enters Kimmel’s late-night realm this week with a decidedly different approach.
No one expects the Fox News mainstay to push progressive talking points on “Gutfeld!” which debuts at 11 p.m. EST April 5. He’s still not going to mock the half of the country marinating in the progressive yuks delivered by Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and their far-left chums.
“Democrats tend to target groups. It’s not just Trump, it’s Trump voters or those stupid Republicans and gun nuts,” Gutfeld says. He has no issue mocking President Joe Biden, Sen. Chuck Schumer or other progressive leaders. He’s not gunning for their voters, though.
“It’s off limits,” Gutfeld says. “You don’t punch down, go after groups of everyday Americans. You understand there’s a variety among groups. Even within groups there are vast differences between them.”
That approach, plus Gutfeld’s vow not to insult Red State U.S.A., offers a truly fresh late night experience.
He wouldn’t be surprised if his new show attracts its fair share of liberals. It wouldn’t be the first time. His gonzo Fox News debut, the cult favorite “Red Eye,” did just that.
The differences between “Gutfeld!” and existing shows don’t end with a host unwilling to infuriate half the country.
“Gutfeld!” isn’t obsessed with landing traditional late night guests, like George Clooney or Tom Hanks. He praises the old-school interviews conducted by David Letterman, but the NBC legend toiled at a time when publicists had less control over the late-night landscape, he says. More recently, the stars’ publicists took greater ownership of the process.
“Be nice to my talent, or you won’t get any more talent,” he says, a “game” he has little interest in playing.
“The guests have to be interesting to me … or there’s something about them that excites me,” Gutfeld says. “Ninety-eight percent of them are not actors with a big project [to promote]. They are scientists, inventors, unusual people … cult-level performers and directors I’m super interested in.”
“I’m confident that what’s interesting to me is of interest [to] the viewer because I’m the viewer,” he adds of his Everyman approach. “Maybe it would be great if I interviewed Clooney, but I’m not gonna have fun doing that, and I want have fun.”
Appearing on Fox News may make it harder for them to get traditional Hollywood guests anyway. Can anyone imagine a far-left “Will & Grace” star stepping foot onto a Fox News stage to chat about wacky behind-the-scenes moments?
Some late-night hosts crash and burn on arrival, like Chevy Chase’s disastrous showcase back in 1993. Others eke it out a bit longer but eventually fail, like Magic Johnson, Larry Wilmore and Hasan Minhaj.
“Gutfeld!” has plenty of momentum to start its run.
“The Greg Gutfeld Show,” which aired on Saturday nights, gave Fox News the second highest rated late-night program behind CBS’s “The Late Show.” It’s all the more impressive since it was a non-broadcast TV show that aired on weekends. Even more noteworthy is that Gutfeld’s program lapped Colbert’s “Show” sporadically last year.
“Gutfeld!” viewers can expect an opening monologue in the grand late-night tradition, but that’s where the similarities dry up, he says.
He recalls watching a “horrendous” clip of Jimmy Fallon interviewing Gov. Andrew Cuomo on “The Tonight Show,” among many reasons he’s hoping to offer something fresh to the formula.
The “great” jokes told by his new peers are few and far between.
One reason why? The Kimmels, Meyers and Colberts are often scoring partisan political points, with some monologues devoid of anything resembling humor.
Gutfeld wants to avoid the “clapter” trap, and he knows one way to do it.
He says sometimes on the old “Gutfeld” show the tone would get too serious, and he’d recognize the problem between segments.
“You have to start thinking, ‘what am I here for?’ I’m the clown who is supposed to turn the burner down,” he says, a task that’s “sometimes impossible when the topics are so volatile.”
He wants to make a late-night show that captures the Johnny Carson model, where audiences go to bed with a smile, not a scowl.
“You wanna be able to talk about the news, make people laugh and have a good time and go to bed thinking they got something out of it,” he says, one reason he tries not to read Twitter before he calls it a day.
In a way, “Gutfeld!” is a natural extension of his eponymous Saturday show, down to returning cohorts like Kat Timpf and Tyrus.
“There’s a bunch of knobs on this show, and we up the frequency,” he says. “It’s a domino effect. What happens when you take something from one and you take it to five? More guests, more segments, and you end up taking risks you normally wouldn’t take.”
That approach isn’t possible with a once-a-week showcase, where chemistry can’t be built as quickly over a period of days.
“You can’t have ‘call back’ conversations if you’re not on every day,” he says. “You get a tougher skin [with the nightly format] and weird s*** happens. I’m looking forward to that.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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