Well, I've finished watching Craiggers' last episode. I used to be an avid watcher of his program when he first aired in 1999- mainly due to the fact that I was a fan of his work on The Daily Show and also of The Late Late Show's previous host, Tom Snyder (so the match-up of timeslot and host at that point was seemingly perfect for me.) As time went on, as fewer and fewer a-list actors appeared on the show, I began flipping over to Conan to see some of his irreverent comedy. However, if for some reason Conan wasn't delivering the goods, the TV went straight back to Kilby.
Craig Kilborn and his writers had a certain unique style when it came to presenting the show that usually engaged the viewers in a more intimate give-and-take with the show. It never tried to be the biggest show in its slot- it made do with the audience who stuck with him and who weren't too thrilled by Triumph the insult comic dog, or later by Jimmy Kimmel's brand of comedy. It was low-key, moderately higher-class humour than his competitors. It was late night comedy at its simplest- no sidekicks, no house band. And I gotta admit that the show did have one of the most comfortable-looking sets.
The show followed a generally regular pattern:
First, there is Craig's monologue. While the monologue was usually lukewarm at best for delivering the laughs (mainly due to Kilborn's horrible timing and rhythm of presenting punchlines), his "desk chat" sketches like A Moment for Us and the 90-second-zoom were always very kitchy and enjoyable. The "In the News" segment gave viewers a micro-version of his Daily Show routine, which were usually hilarious.
Then the guests arrived after the commercial break. Now, Kilborn's interviewing skills seem to have deteriorated after the Daily Show, because it always seems that he is not interested about who he's interviewing with, and subconsciously conveys that not only to the interviewee, but more importantly the audience. That, unfortunately, gives people the impression that Craig is some sort of jerk at times. However, one of the key jewels in the show's 5 year history has to be the 5 Questions game he plays almost every night with one of his guests. I consider it fascinating how some of his guests react. Some play along (like Sir Ian MacKellen's dramatic reading of tire changing instructions). Others seem non-chalant and don't really care how well they do- they just want to get out of the studio so that they can go on to the next PR gig.
All in all, though, the show somehow exuded a sense of nonchalantness to the whole Late Night show idea- it did whatever it wanted to do and had the most fun in doing so. And in that sort of attitude is where it managed to find its niche. People considered that sort of devil-may-care look at its place in the television listings as cool, while others may have seen it as careless.
However it was, it's all over now. Craig has decided to pack up and try out something new- and at a time when he was still somewhat strong in the ratings. Maybe next time he'll have some more decent writers back up his next endeavour. Maybe he'll just disappear into obscurity- where people won't even remember that his show was on the air at all. Whatever it may be, I wish him the best. His show was indeed an interesting alternative to the normal method of delivering a late night television program, and there won't be another show like it. And I, for one and probably only one, will miss that. I'm glad, though, that Craig ended his last show doing what he loves- and that is to dance, dance, dance.
CBS and Worldwide Pants now have the arduous task of finding out what's next for this little show after Letterman. Will it be the return of the one-on-one interview in the style of Snyder? Will it be more irreverent in order to get Conan's audience? Will it be something completely different that no one has seen before? Who knows (at the time of this writing)? All I know is that it has to be good in order to retain the Kilborn audience at the least. Best of luck to them.
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