2014 was a year of massive change for late night television. Hosts left and new ones came in. Some are still wrapping up their shows. But throughout the year, the late night comedy talk shows continued to provide amazing television moments. There were tears, laughs and surprises. Here’s the Ten Best Late Night Moments of 2014
Jay gets really emotional as he says goodbye to the Tonight Show for the second time on February 6, 2014. In his sign off, Jay talks about how his entire family is dead and that makes leaving the Tonight Show even harder. It would really make anything harder. It was an emotional moment that viewers rarely saw during Jay’s 21 years combined of the Tonight Show.
What does Dave’s retirement mean? It means that he and Paul can finally be married. That’s according to Dave who made the big announcement without warning on April 3, 2014. Letterman had been doing late night on television for 31 years. He’s expected to do his last show next May, but no date has been set for his finale or for replacement Stephen Colbert to take over. Maybe he’ll change his mind. It’s happened in late night before.
The Real Time with Bill Maher panel debate on October 3, 2014, got ugly when guest Ben Affleck accused Bill Maher and fellow guest author Sam Harris of racism for saying the basic beliefs of Islam include oppressing women and minorities. Ben called that Islamophobia. Maher also pointed out that one belief of the religion is that a person should be killed if they try to leave it. Ben got pissed and said that’s bigotry. Careful Bill. After all, he’s Batman!
Jimmy Kimmel proved his power over social media in late night. A video of a girl twerking upside down and then falling into a table and accidentally lighting herself on fire was everywhere. It was making every local news channel’s reports. The video spread all over the internet with no promotion from Jimmy Kimmel who was actually behind it. On September 8, 2014, Kimmel did an interview on his show with the girl from the video and revealed it all to be a prank. This proved to the world that you should never trust the internet or a girl claiming to be on fire.
On April 10, 2014, Stephen Colbert was named the successor to David Letterman on CBS’ Late Show. Two weeks later, he made a surprise appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to announce he was ending his show on Comedy Central, the Colbert Report. The segment was classic Stephen Colbert (with the “T” silent). It was Colbert being so good at being Colbert, it made viewers wonder what is going to happen when he’s doing an hour every night on a broadcast network? Everyone will find out in 2015.
John Oliver’s new show on HBO, “Last Week Tonight” had only been on the air a little over a month, but was already wielding some mighty firepower. On June 1, 2014, John did a segment on net neutrality and the FCC looking to unlevel the online playing field. He then did something that he said he thought he would never do. He encouraged online commenters. He told them to go to the FCC website and bombard them with comments to keep the internet fair. He called them out as the monsters and trolls they can be and told them to use their “indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.” The result was the FCC’s site crashing and burning.
If Conan was wrapping up his show, this award would have gone to him. But it was the constantly nude Chelsea Handler who gets this honor. Chelsea finished her run on Chelsea Lately on August 26, 2014. She brought out almost everyone in Hollywood for the finale. The big news from Chelsea is that she wasn’t going to another network. There was some speculation that she was up for the Letterman gig. As she said goodbye, she screamed “We’ll see you on Netflix”. Late night’s only female talk host signed a deal with the streaming service. Everyone will have to wait and see if this is a game-changer for just Chelsea or for all of television talk.
Jonah Hill found himself in the news for yelling the other F-word at a member of the paparazzi. On June 2, 2014 he appeared on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his new movie, “22 Jump Street”, but also to apologize for the slur. The mea culpa was awkward and Jimmy Fallon followed it up with a gay joke about coming out. The gentle understanding Jonah found on the Tonight Show seemed to set a trend when just weeks later, Gary Oldman did a national apology on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for supporting Mel Gibson and his rants.
On January 31, 2014, Bill Murray made his first appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman of the new year. He took the stage like no one else could. Well, he eventually took the stage, once he landed. Bill flew in as Peter Pan and telling Dave that he wants the lead in the then upcoming live NBC musical Peter Pan. He thrilled the audience with his high wire act. If NBC had gone in this direction for Peter Pan Live!, they wouldn’t have been complaining about the ratings for their live special.
The 25 year band was lifted. On Jimmy Fallon’s debut as host of the Tonight Show on February 17, 2014, Joan Rivers came back as part of the parade of celebrities paying off a $100 bet to the new host. The crowd exploded as she came through the curtain. Joan hadn’t been on the Tonight Show in 25 years following her ban by Johnny Carson which was also enforced by Jay Leno. Her February 17th cameo also came on the 49th anniversary of her very first appearance with Carson. A wonderful performer and lady returned home where she belonged in the late night moment of the year.