Now that Stephen Colbert is officially committed to take over The Late Show after Dave Letterman retires, we should probably start thinking about who can take over his show for him once he’s gone.
I’m speaking of course of The Colbert Report, a spin-off itself of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, that Colbert was given after proving himself as a correspondent on the show. As it exists right now, it’s a show that parodies the opinions and ideals of the extreme right via Colbert’s extreme dedication to his own conservative character. And while no one can do his job exactly like him, somebody has to try, either with their own similarly satirical character or just a refreshing, intelligent, witty, biting, sharp, focused, self-aware, irreverent take on the news.
Not too much to ask, right? Wrong: an incredible amount to ask, before you even consider that they’d be filling Colbert’s shoes. But luckily, I came up with a list of comedians who I think would be up for it. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone!
1. Ricky Gervais
This is fully my dream world talking, but I just love Ricky so much and want him and his infectious laugh on my television every night by any means necessary. Not only is he hilarious and zero percent worried about offending anyone, but he’s also incredibly intelligent and opinionated in the good way, even if he does try to hide it.
2. Jessica Williams
Jessica is currently a correspondent on The Daily Show, where she’s proven she’s sharp and witty not just when she’s planned, but also under pressure, when things are off-the-cuff. She also appears on Girls as one of Hannah’s coworkers, and when I saw her do a storytelling open mic once, she was incredibly open and self-aware, which I think are crucial traits in a host for a show like this.
3. Russell Brand
Again, I have to assume that he would never do it, because my impression is that he has a ton of irons in the fire at once and absolutely no attention span, but this would be a great fit. It’s easy not to take Russell seriously because of how he looks (and that whole breaking up with Katy Perry via a text message thing), but the guy is incredibly well-informed and already has a history of quite cheerfully making his more ignorant guests look like complete nincompoops.
4. Aziz Ansari
Like Russell, Aziz already has a pretty sweet deal over yonder in Parks and Recreation land, but when that show ends (as it surely must some day, right?), I’d love if he’d wander over Comedy Central way and see how a desk chair feels against his bum. Aziz’s comedy itself is obviously hilarious, but he also has the added skill of a ready-made character. He could pull elements of Tom straight out of Parks and Rec – like his eagerness, naivety, and earnestness — and throw them right into the show’s format. I feel like it would really work.
5. Nikki Glaser
You might recognize Nikki from co-hosting the MTV show Nikki & Sara for about .5 seconds before it was canceled, but it’s time to give this girl another chance to get her face out there. She’s been performing since age eighteen, appearing on Last Comic Standing, Conan, and The Tonight Show and everything in between, and no topic is off limits as far as she’s concerned.
6. Richard Ayoade
You might not recognize him, but Richard is well-known in Britain for everything from writing to performing to directing and presenting. He’s skilled in all the fields, but what makes him a truly great fit for the show is his unique perspective and off-beat character type. He just seems to think about things differently than other people, which is exactly what this show needs.
7. Thomas Middleditch
HBO kind of beat me to the punch on this one, scooping Thomas up for its new show Silicon Valley before I even got a chance to talk about how perfect he’d be for this job. He has the insecure nerd act completely nailed, which would take the show in an intriguingly different direction, I feel like, but he’s also extensively trained in improvisational comedy, so it’d be tough for an aggressive guest to steamroll him.
8. Samantha Bee
She’s always done a great job as a correspondent for The Daily Show, and there’s probably no one better qualified for Colbert’s job. She’s funny, experienced, and her conservative character is close enough to Colbert’s that the transition would be fairly seamless. There’s really no argument against giving her the show right now, but I guess I can finish my list.
9. W. Kamau Bell
The host of the now-cancelled show Totally Biased, Kamau is described as a socio-political comedian and community activist, which is pretty ideal for this position. It’d be a mutually beneficial relationship because the network could benefit from him being a really intellectual comic, and he could benefit by having an amazing platform for his activism. What’s not to love?
10. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
I don’t expect these two to leave Broad City anytime soon, and in fact I’d be devastated if they did, but as someone who has watched them conduct interviews for their monthly live show at UCB…wowzers. They’re so warm and inviting and interested in what the guest has to say that I feel like they’d be able to creatively talk anyone down from a crazy idea. But who am I kidding? I’m just trying to watch their show more than once a week.
11. Wyatt Cenac
Wyatt is another person who’s well-trained for this job, as he was a Daily Show correspondent from 2008 until 2012. I’d love to see him get back in the Making People Uncomfortable For A Living Game again, and this would be the perfect opportunity.
12. Kristen Schaal
Oh hello yet another former Daily Show correspondent! Lately, Kristen is pretty busy voicing Louise on Bob’s Burgers, but I’d personally love it if she came back and gave us all a lesson in professional awkwardness four nights a week. She definitely has the voice and the timing down, and I’d love to see people take her more seriously as a comedian instead of buying into her whole nonsense-human character shtick.
13. Kumail Nanjiani
Kumail stars on Silicon Valley with another person on this list, Thomas Middleditch, so the two of them should probably start plotting about how to show-up the other and elbow their way onto the show the next time they’re on set. But seriously, Kumail would be brilliant in this role. His deadpan delivery alone seals it for me, but he’s also on the Bachelorette parody show Burning Love, which provides thousands and thousands of bonus points.
14. Nicole Byer
Nicole currently stars on MTV’s Girl Code, and she was on the short list of comedians being considered in the last round of Saturday Night Live casting, when Sasheer Zamata got on the show. She may not have made it this time around, but Nicole is an effing force to behold, and I’d love to see her unbridled enthusiasm behind that desk.
15. Andrew Law
Andrew is an Upright Citizens Brigade-trained improviser who currently writes for Late Night With Seth Meyers and who has a recurring role on HBO’s Looking. And if his resume is any indication, he likes to keep busy, having written on shows like The Jeselnik Offensive and Impractical Jokers, and working as a creative consultant for Billy On The Street. Being able to manage all that chaos is a sure sign that he’d do well on a show like Colbert.
16. Hannibal Burress
Ugh godddd I fell in love with Hannibal on Broad City as well, and now I just want to see him everywhere all the time. I’m obsessed with his droll delivery and easygoing attitude, and while I can’t imagine how he’d handle hosting Colbert, I’m really interested to find out.
17. Kate Berlant
Kate really has no on-camera experience that I’m aware of, but every time I’ve seen her standup, I’ve been blown away. She’s an engaging, interesting voice who’s been named one of Time Out Magazine‘s Three Comics To Watch. She doesn’t make much sense as a full-on replacement for Colbert because she isn’t currently a recognizable name, but I wanted her on this list so I look smart for later when she blows up and she’s all anyone can talk about. (This is about me, guys.)
18. Paul Downs
Paul’s a writer for Broad City, and he also appears on the show occasionally as Abbi’s boss at the gym, Trey. But in his down (no pun intended) time from that, he creates his own sketches as half of the comedy duo Paulilu, with Lucia Aniello, who’s also great. Like Kate, he’s not ready to make the jump to a four-times-weekly Comedy Central show, but he’s someone we should all be keeping an eye on and grooming for down the line.
19. Donald Glover
WOULD THIS NOT BE GENIUS? Donald is already all over the map with his ventures, dabbling in music with his rapper persona Childish Gambino, acting on Community, doing improv, and stand-up and just basically nailing it at everything he touches, so why would hosting be any different? He’s the kind of person who’d put the work in and take the show in a different, unique direction, and I really think he’d be an ideal fit.
20. Jenny Slate
I will take any excuse to get more Jenny Slate into my life, honestly. Even though she’s the lead in the upcoming film Obvious Child, which looks amazing, I still haven’t forgiven television for taking Jenny off of SNL and away from me that way. This would be a few really big steps in that direction, so get on it, WORLD.