Who'd want to be James Corden? The new host of CBS' "The Late Late Show," who takes over the slot vacated by Craig Ferguson, has an unenviable task. Not only does the British comic have to introduce himself to American audiences, he also has to succeed where nearly everyone else who's tried has failed, in the hyper-competitive arena of late-night talk.
For all the late-night talk shows launched over the past 60 years, only a tiny handful of hosts have found any success. Many shows vanished without a trace, despite having talented and funny hosts who had succeeded elsewhere.. Does anyone remember that Craig Kilborn hosted "The Daily Show" before Jon Stewart and "The Late Late Show" before Craig Ferguson? Does anyone remember Whoopi Goldberg's show, or Roseanne's, or Joy Behar's, or Zach Galifianakis's? Others do have an impact, but it's the disastrous impact of an asteroid hurtling into the earth. Exhibit A: Chevy Chase's notorious six-week fiasco in 1993, or Rat Packer Joey Bishop's mid-'60s challenge to Johnny Carson, giving him the dubious honor of being the first rival whom Carson would completely steamroller.
Maybe Corden can take inspiration from the hosts on this list, those whose innovations have advanced the form, those whose whose brilliance as raconteurs made the guests they conversed with look better, those who never ran out of ways to make us laugh, and those whose sheer longevity made them institutions.