On Being a Candidate to Take Over a Late-Night Network Talk Show.
Culturally aware Americans are no doubt aware that a certain late-night talk show is currently seeking a new host. Because I am a candidate for this position and because I do not want to jeopardize my chances of getting the job, I will not say which network the show is on, but I will give you a hint. Its initials are CBS.
Perhaps you too would like to be considered for this job. Keep dreaming, sucker. You’ve got a better chance of being crowned King of Siam. (And just for the record—SIAM DOESN’T EVEN EXIST ANYMORE.)
The truth is, there are very few people qualified for this job. For one thing, you have to be a celebrity. Fortunately, I am (very famous). Also, you’ve got to know everything about everything. Luckily, I do. For example, I was the guy who informed you that Siam doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s some other country whose name I do not know.
On top of all of that, you have to be able to carry on witty banter with all kinds of people: soap-opera actresses, precocious children, British people (the worst). Again, this is not a problem for me. I am well-known for being a sparkling conversationalist in the tradition of Dorothy Parker, who I am told said some truly fucked-up shit. Here is an example of a witty conversation I might have with a young starlet:
Me: So what did you do on your time off this year?
Gorgeous Starlet who has a Barely Concealed Crush on the Host: I went to St. Bart’s, relaxed by the pool, and drank piña coladas.
Me: Sounds terrible.
The other thing is, you have to appeal to the demographic that watches these shows, namely the unemployed and the chronically drunk. These are my people; I know this because I once commissioned a scientific study to gauge audience response to my work. Two groups watched tapes of me performing my patented esoteric, self-aggrandizing brand of comedy. The first group watched in the middle of the afternoon and found me “tiresome,” “cringe-inducing,” and “most likely gay.” The second group watched the same tape in the middle of the night after being administered a large cocktail consisting of equal parts vodka, gin, and Robitussin cough syrup. Those still conscious at the conclusion of the viewing found me “pretty funny,” “stupid but, like, good stupid, you know?” and “most likely gay.”
In late September, I did a brief stint guest-hosting this talk show for two nights. Needless to say, I looked great. New suit, new haircut, and the kind of tan you can only buy for $6 at CVS. Was I good? Obviously, I am not the best person to give an objective critique of my own performance, but on a scale of one to 10, I would say I was about a 300 million. Yes, I was good. So good, in fact, that after the shows, an extremely high-powered executive’s assistant approached me and said, “Nice job.” Now that may not sound like the highest praise in the world, but when you consider the fact this guy actually stopped eating his sandwich for a second to say it, I think you begin to sense the magnitude of the network’s enthusiasm.
Some astute people have asked me if I even want the job. After all, it’s a lot of hard work. A new show has to be booked, written, and performed every night, five nights a week, 46 weeks a year. Obviously, this kind of time commitment will severely curtail all the charity work I do with various casinos.
But I believe that it’s worth it.
Because, at the end of the day, I believe telling topical jokes and interviewing C-level celebrities is a higher calling. If this were the Middle Ages, talk-show hosts would be the priests, their guests the penitents. Or not. I don’t know. Regardless, it’s a hell of a lot better than what I’m currently doing, which is expounding on the cultural significance of The A-Team for VH1. (When they asked me for my occupation on my income tax return this year, I wrote down “Fundit,” and almost collapsed from depression.)
But those aren’t the primary reasons I want the job.
No, the main reason should be obvious to anybody who knows anything about late-night-talk-show hosts—those guys are fucking rich. And while being famous is great, being famous without being correspondingly wealthy is a lot like being a really hot nun. Totally pointless.
So if you see my name in lights around the first of the year, you will know I got my wish. If not, look for me on VH1 making snide remarks about whoever they do get. But you will know that I was once very close to being crowned the King of Siam.
SUGGESTED READSMcSweeney’s Investigative Reports
by Matt Sullivan (2/24/1999)
Say it Ain’t So, Joe(y): The Takedown
by Matt Sullivan (3/18/1999)
Sixteen Punchlines For Hot Days
by Jason Ross (7/30/1999)
RECENTLYThis Week on As the World Tinders
by Chris Brotzman (10/1/2014)
Hungover Bear and Friends: Lovingly Tolerant
by Ali Fitzgerald (10/1/2014)
Monologue: I Am Gary, Your Bed, Bath and Beyond Sherpa
by Jen Winston (10/1/2014)
POPULARIt’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers
by Colin Nissan (9/23/2014)
A Generic College Paper
by Jon Wu (9/19/2014)
My Grading Scale for the Fall Semester, Composed Entirely of Samuel Beckett Quotes
by Matt Bell (8/31/2012)