Taylor Tomlinson thought they were letting her down easy. Having become one of the three finalists for “After Midnight,” CBS’ replacement for “The Late, Late Show with James Cordon,” she wasn’t prepared for the Zoom call with Stephen Colbert.
The screen-grab Colbert held up on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” when they announced Tomlinson as the host of the show that will follow his said it all. Incandescent, slamming forward, mouth covered, the comedian who wanted to have a comedy special by 30 was being handed the only broadcast network late night show helmed by a woman.
Not only is she the only female host, she is the youngest host by two decades; her placement announcing that Millenials and Gen Z will now have their perspective and reality represented following on the Big Three.
Tomlinson – who joins a small group of women to have had the chance to host late night since “The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers” aired on FOX in 1986-87 – is smart, incisive and self-effacing; perfect for a show based on Comedy Central’s 2013 “After Midnight with Chris Hardwick,” which featured a host playing a series of internet-related games with a panel of comics. A different twist on what exists, “After Midnight” will serve as both an escape and a take on dealing with an increasingly fraught world while keeping one’s sanity intact.
“She’s been offered things, but they weren’t right for her,” manager Judi Marmel of Levity Live offers. “She does a very good job of knowing where her limits are; she excels at not being everything to everybody, but being very real and true to who she is.”
“It’s a testament to the hard work that she puts in,” agent Nick Nuciforo of UTA agrees. “She’s somebody when you talk about those things we look for when you want to sign a client, she’s somebody who checks everyone of those boxes. Such a unique voice! She’s a lightning rod for a whole community of people who she gives voice to and and normalizes. And she’s just really really funny.”
The new show, with showrunners Jack Martin and Eric Pierce attached, is slated to run as a quick-hitting panel of comics, commenting on topics and news of the day. Brooklyn-based comic/author/podcaster Jo Firestone, known for “Teenage Euthanasia,” “Joe Pera Talks With You” and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” will serve as head writer.
The Executive Producer team for this is stout. Colbert, Spartina Industries president Carrie Byalick, “The Late Show” executive producer Tom Purcell, Colbert’s wife Evelyn McGee Colbert, Dixon Talent’s James Dixon, who reps Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart. Funny or Die’s Joe Farrell, Mike Farah, Whitney Hodack and Henry Munoz III and “Serious Business” Jason Nadler, who co-created the original “@midnight” are also EPs.
In the original press release, Colbert said of the new show hosted by Tomlinson, “My hope is that, every night, After Midnight will be just as ridiculous as the internet is every day. Plus, the original @midnight aired after The Colbert Report, so welcoming this new show to 12:30 feels like coming home.”
“Quarter-Life Crisis” and “Look At You” remain among Netflix’s best-performing comedy specials, so landing life and cultural commentary is something Tomlinson excels at. With her crowd work, slinging in-the-moment is something she’s been developing since she moved into comedy clubs at 22.
Targeting the reality of being 20-something, the cheerfully adroit truth-teller defines a new niche for people coming of age in the social media age.
At 29 when the announcement was made, 30 by the time the show hits the air, Tomlinson is poised to establish a late (late) night beachhead for anyone from their early 20s, 30s and 40s, who have been woefully underserved and underrepresented in this arena. If not an inflection point, “After Midnight” suggests that new voices and viewpoints are about to have a home on the most far-reaching medium around.
While she may not have been expecting the news, her appearance on “The Late Show” shows a woman ready to make it happen.