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Ever since Johnny Carson first popularized the late night talk show in 1962 with The Tonight Show, the 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. comedy time slot on network television has remained an indelible part of our national culture. Today, we have more than six popular late-night shows that air every night of the week, and with the recent major shake-ups in the industryJimmy Fallon taking over Jay Leno’s desk at The Tonight Show, Stephen Colbert replacing David Letterman on The Late Show, John Oliver creating a whole new format at HBOlate-night television has never been more relevant to our public consciousness. Jon Macks, a veteran writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, takes us behind the scenes of the late-night world for an in-depth, colorful look at what really makes these hosts the arbiters of public opinion.
From the opening monologuewhat’s funny, what’s dangerous, what’s untouchableto the best vs. worst guests (think Billy Crystal and Martin Short vs. Kristen Stewart and John Edwards), Macks covers the landscape of late-night comedy and punctuates the narrative with hysterical personal anecdotes and draws from more than half a million of his own jokes written over the span of twenty years. With an insider’s expertise and a laugh-out-loud voice on every page, Macks explains how late-night TV redefines the news and events of any given day, reshapes public opinion, and even creates our national zeitgeist.