On Thursday, David Letterman announced he would step down as host of the Late Show in 2015, ending a 22-year run. The question now becomes, who will fill his shoes? Here are 10 possible names who’d make for a quality replacement.
10. Tyler the Creator
Why: The Odd Future frontman is ripe for his own talk show. Not only does he have the comedic chops, but his high-energy personality would hold an audience’s attention for all 60 minutes. He’s also dabbled in television with his Adult Swim sketch comedy Loiter Squad, plus his rolodex of musical guests could rival Fallon’s.
Why Not: Because he’s Tyler the Creator
09. Howard Stern
Why: The King of all Media has had a presence on television for years, but recently made his brand much more mainstream as a judge of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. He’s considered one of the greatest interviewers of his time and he’d have no trouble nabbing big name guests. Plus, he’s a close friend of Letterman, and his name was previously rumored as a potential host of Late Night before it went to Seth Meyers.
Why Not: Howard has scaled back his work load in recent years and at 60 years of age, there’s no indication he’d be willing to take on such an exhaustive job. Also consider whether CBS would want to give someone like Stern the show when there’s a chance he could announce his own retirement in less than five years.
08. Joel McHale
Why: He’s relatively young (age 42), but has the pedigree to command the Late Show set. He’s hosted The Soup since 2004, stars on NBC’s Community, and was recently tapped to serve as master of ceremony at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Why Not: He’s never hosted a talk show before.
07. Craig Ferguson
Why: He’s the current host of the Late Late Show, which follows the Late Show and is executive produced by Letterman himself.
Why Not: He’d be the most obvious choice if not for his left-field wit. He’s even zannier than Letterman and it’s hard to see his unique brand of comedy connect with a mainstream audience. That said, it’ll be interesting to see whether Letterman feels some sort of obligation to hand over the reigns to Ferguson.
06. Chelsea Handler
Why: She’s the only woman talk show host on late night, a job she’s held down for six years. However, she recently announced plans to end her show by 2015. Maybe she got an early scoop on Dave’s retirement?
Why Not: She might be a little too edgy for late night. Especially for a network whose lead-in would be The Big Bang Theory.
05. Amy Poehler
Why: The former SNL cast member and host of Weekend Update has become a full-fledged superstar thanks to her starring role on Parks and Rec. She’s also hosted the Academy Awards alongside Tina Fey.
Why Not: Hosting Weekend Update is nothing compared to hosting Late Show. Plus, Parks and Recreaton was recently renewed for another season.
04. Tina Fey
Why: Like Poehler, she’s a former SNL cast member and host of Weekend Update. After that, she spearheaded one of the most successful sitcoms of the last decade in 30 Rock. That show wrapped up last year and she’s laid relatively low since then.
Why Not: Like Poehler, she has no experience hosting a TV show. Plus, would her relationship with Lorne Michael deter her from jumping ship to CBS?
03. Conan O’Brien
Why: Despite having his own show on TBS, you have to think Conan O’Brien is chomping at the bit to return to network TV and prove NBC wrong once and for all. Of all the possible candidates, there’s no one more qualified than O’Brien, plus his contract with TBS expires in 2015.
Why Not: CBS may consider O’Brien damaged goods. His unsuccessful stint as host of The Tonight Show wasn’t entirely his fault, but Conan seemed to struggle at “dumbing down” his comedy for a more mainstream audience. Plus, his show on TBS has never done great ratings.
02. Jon Stewart
Why: As host of The Daily Show for 15 years, Stewart has literally done it all; he’s interviewed Presidents, welcomed music’s biggest acts, and even staged his own march on Washington, DC. Like Conan, his contract with Comedy Central expires in 2015 and if there’s one opportunity that could woo him away, one would think it’d be taking over for Letterman on Late Show. Also consider the fact that Comedy Central and CBS are both owned by Viacom.
Why Not: He’s a star on Comedy Central and earning good money in the process. Some could argue that he’s a bigger brand than Letterman or Fallon in 2014.
01. Jerry Seinfeld
Why: One would have to think this is Seinfeld’s gig if he wants it. He’s close friends with Letterman, filled in for him when he had open heart surgery in 2000, and has proved his interviewing chops with his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Not to mention he remains the most successful comedian working today.
Why Not: He’s turned down opportunities to have his own talk show in the past, plus he seems really invested in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. He also doesn’t need the money.