Nite Owl

The Late Show with David Letterman was top-notch last week, with U2 performing all five nights. The "on hold" sketch was hysterical, and their Top Ten was very funny — especially Edge ad-libbing about Sting. Much of the material is up on the website. A visit from Jon Stewart was icing on the cake, as he and Dave compared notes on hosting the Oscars.

I've barely ever caught Conan O'Brien on NBC's Late Night, but I wish him well on The Tonight Show. There's a much better chance I'll be checking him out than Jay Leno, who for me hits the trifecta of having an annoying voice, being a lousy interviewer, and not being particularly funny, three points that you would think utterly disqualify someone from hosting a talk/variety show. No offense to ABC's Jimmy Kimmel, but as laugh-out-loud as "I'm F---ing Ben Affleck" was I still usually forget about him.

For me the modern gold standard is Letterman, who may not be the beloved Johnny Carson but is the true heir to his throne. Craig Ferguson has actually staked out some new territory following Dave on CBS's The Late Late Show with his long, associative monologues and freewheeling celebrity chats. I'm already overbooked around the midnight hour, however, because I check out the Chelsea Lately roundtable when possible — the only thing on E! worth watching — and am addicted to Comedy Central's one-two punch of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report; they often get played back on the weekend, depending on whether Late Show is new, but I try to end my day with laughter.

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