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Here's what to know on Taylor Tomlinson, one of late-night TV's newest hosts


The late-night TV landscape will change significantly early next year when comic Taylor Tomlinson debuts as host of a new show called "After Midnight." It'll air weeknights on CBS after "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert." Colbert is also an executive producer on "After Midnight." And when he announced Tomlinson's new hosting gig on "The Late Show," Tomlinson admitted that as a rising comic who just turned 30, she's not a household name yet.


TAYLOR TOMLINSON: So if you don't know who I am, don't worry. I barely know myself.

CHANG: Here to talk about how Tomlinson's rise might change the face of late-night television is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Hey, Eric.


CHANG: Hi. So I have never personally heard of Taylor Tomlinson until this very interview with you. So just tell us, who is she and where might people already know her from?

DEGGANS: Sure. Well, if you're not a comedy nerd, you might not know who she is. She's a rising comedy star with two well-regarded stand-up specials on Netflix. She's been doing stand-up comedy since she was 16 years old...


DEGGANS: ...And she's appeared on these podcasts by older, more established comics like Pete Holmes or Neal Brennan, who kind of signaled that she was a legit funny stand-up. And choosing her makes a lot of sense for CBS because the network is worried about how ratings are dropping for late-night shows and, in particular, young people tuning out. And she's also gained a large following through videos of her stand-up posted on social media outlets like Instagram and TikTok. And we've got a clip. Let's listen.


TOMLINSON: My college boyfriend was sleeping with sex workers behind my back - or prostitutes, if you're old and don't know that word is not OK to use anymore. Sometimes older crowd members can get confused. Is that what my granddaughter does on Instagram? And you're like, no, no, no. She's just hot. That's a FabFitFun box. That's a different...

DEGGANS: Yeah. And, yeah, I had to look up what a FabFitFun box is. But...

CHANG: What is that?


DEGGANS: She knows social media. She can tell jokes that cover a wide generational span. She ticks a lot of boxes for CBS.

CHANG: OK, I guess that's good to hear.

DEGGANS: And it's a good box (laughter).

CHANG: I mean, does it also matter that she's a woman, Eric, I mean, given all the Johns and Stephens hosting late-night shows these days?

DEGGANS: Oh, for sure. I mean, depending on who's chosen as the permanent host for "The Daily Show," Tomlinson could be the only woman hosting a major late-night show on TV next year. I mean, she'll be debuting as many shows with female hosts like Samantha Bee and Ziwe and Amber Ruffin have either been cut back or canceled. And she's likely going to be the youngest late-night host on TV, testing if these shows can still appeal to young people who have largely turned away from traditional broadcast or cable TV for online platforms.

CHANG: Right. Well, I also heard that "After Midnight" won't be like a typical late-night talk show, right?

DEGGANS: Yeah. It's going to be a new version of a game show called "@midnight" that aired for a while on Comedy Central. It basically features three comics playing these social media-themed games. And, you know, again, for CBS, this makes sense. It's cheap to produce. The subject matter is about the online platforms that young people are already using, and the games will be easy to put up online for viral videos.

CHANG: Wait, but I have to ask. I mean, what does this say about the future of late-night that CBS had the chance to create a new talk show and instead just revived an old game show?

DEGGANS: Well, I got to say, that's what worries me as a fan of late-night TV. I mean, rather than figure out how to make something new and different, they recycled an old idea.

CHANG: Yeah.

DEGGANS: And there's a lot of producers on this project, including Colbert's manager and his wife, and humor by committee can be tough. You know, I just hope when the show debuts early next year, they find some new dimensions to this idea and chart a new course for late-night entertainment because the late-night genre really needs one.

CHANG: Totally. That is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Thank you, Eric.

DEGGANS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TAYLOR SWIFT SONG, "FEARLESS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.