young female comedian with a pony tail smiles and tells jokes into microphone
Taylor Tomlinson in her Netflix special "Quarter Life Crisis." MUST CREDIT: Allyson Riggs/Netflix

The Male-Dominated Late-Night Television Landscape Is Finally Getting Another Cool Female Host

James Corden is out, Taylor Tomlinson is very in.

If you’ve never heard of Taylor Tomlinson before, that’s about to change. At just 29 years old, the comedian has landed one of the most coveted spots in network television: host of a brand new late-night show called After Midnight.

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Tomlinson joins a field that’s almost entirely dominated by men, so this is an exciting development! Her appointment to the slot makes her just the fifth woman to ever host a late-night American television show. Read that again.

It’s ridiculous how few women have stood on that stage

Joan Rivers famously paved the way for Tomlinson and others by hosting The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers on Fox in October 1986. This career move sparked a raging feud with fellow late-night host Johnny Carson, on whose show she used to appear regularly.

“‘I don’t understand, why is he mad?'” Rivers wrote in a retrospective for The Hollywood Reporter. “He was not angry at anybody else. I think he really felt because I was a woman that I just was his. That I wouldn’t leave him. I know this sounds very warped. But I don’t understand otherwise what was going on. For years, I thought that maybe he liked me better than the others. But I think it was a question of, ‘I found you, and you’re my property.’ He didn’t like that as a woman, I went up against him.”

Rivers was fired from her own show just a few months later in May 1987. She remained blacklisted from The Late Late Show for decades, long after Carson passed away.

Joan Rivers as a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
Carson Entertainment Group

More recently, comedian Samantha Bee landed her own show, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, in February 2016. She was the first woman to host a late-night satire show, and the critics loved it … but it still got canceled in 2022. Similarly, the hilarious and versatile Amber Ruffin debuted a late-night show called The Amber Ruffin Show on NBC and Peacock in 2020. It doesn’t seem to matter that the show was awesome; it still made it just 3 seasons before the network pulled the plug.

In 2019, NBC tried once more to inject some much-needed feminine energy into their late-night timeslot. A Little Late with Lilly Singh premiered on the network in 2019, hosted by Singh, the first person of Indian and South Asian descent and the first openly bisexual person to ever host a major U.S. late-night show. Sadly, Singh’s tenure ended in 2021.

Which brings us to today, when we finally have a fully upgraded replacement for the 12:37 a.m. timeslot formerly held by James Corden’s The Late Late Show.

What is After Midnight, exactly?

The show will be produced by The Paramount Global network, and it will hit the airwaves in early 2024. It’s based on an old Comedy Central show called @midnight, a game show-type show that featured a panel of comedians discussing social media and other digital industry topics. That show was hosted by Chris Hardwick and aired from October 2013 to August 2017, piggybacking off of traffic from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

The news of Tomlinson’s big break came via Stephen Colbert on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, who will produce After Midnight with Tomlinson and other creatives, including some familiar names from Funny Or Die. After making the announcement, Colbert invited Tomlinson on stage to discuss the news.

“I’m 29, so if you don’t know who I am, don’t worry, I barely know myself,” Tomlinson joked during the segment.

She also joked that she’s “never had a real job,” which while true, is hardly accurate. Tomlinson has been hustling to make her mark in the comedy world since she was just 16 years old. She started off doing her act in church basements before moving to Los Angeles and performing on the circuit. She got her first big break on a Netflix special called The Comedy Lineup in 2018, leading to two more Netflix specials that put her on the map.

In 2020, pandemic-housebound audiences devoured Quarter-Life Crisis and Look at You on the streaming network. She went on to sign a deal to make two more specials for Netflix, the next of which will premiere in 2024. She’s currently filling theaters around the United States on tour.

We’re excited to see what Tomlinson does with After Midnight, and it will be refreshing to see someone so much younger and more hip at the desk. Honestly, it’s about time.

(featured image: Allyson Riggs/Netflix)


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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.