Comedy Central’s ‘Colbert’ Derby Begins, and Any Kind of Show Can Win
Comedy Central is leaving all formats on the table when it comes to filling the 11:30 timeslot that becomes vacant at the end of 2014 with the departure of Stephen Colbert — including, but definitely not limited to, another topical talk show in the style of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
The process of finding that show may mirror the short-leash experiment the network tried when The Colbert Report debuted in October of 2005, with no more than an 8-week commitment. Had Colbert fizzled, the network could’ve bailed; but execs knew within just a few days that they’d captured lighting in a bottle.
Can they do it again? And on the first try?
Comedy Central won’t be afraid to try out different people and formats on short-term basis like it did with Colbert, people familiar with Comedy Central’s thinking told Mashable. And though eight months isn’t a huge amount of time to fill shoes as big as Colbert’s, it’s enough that the network isn’t rushing a decision.
One thing is for certain: Comedy Central is gunning for some kind of replacement to debut shortly after the character addresses the Colbert Nation one last time. The network plans to make a move, and has no intention of throwing in a placeholder to buy time.
By no means is Comedy Central hellbent on capturing another newsy yang to Stewart’s yin. I was surprised to learn that Chris Hardwick’s comedy quiz show @midnight into Colbert’s slot is under serious consideration, not because the show isn’t doing great — it is — but because it’s doing so well in its existing slot. Why mess with success? (Not to mention the fact that you’d need to change the show’s name.)
The more exciting prospect is for Comedy Central to fashion something that’s entirely new, but still sews up the 11 p.m.-midnight hour as a solid block for the young, socially savvy audience it already owns in late night. Even if the network does settle on a hosted talk-show format, it certainly has a good stable of existing and outside talent to draw upon.
Whichever way Comedy Central goes, here’s a bet I’ll go on the record with: It will involve some kind of social-media interactivity, a la @midnight, whose “hashtag wars” has become a nightly show of its own on Twitter.