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Another late-night talk show host is entering the trenches Monday, as James Corden makes his debut on CBS’ Late Late Show. But how will the episode stack up against other previous premieres?
Below are clips from several beloved late-night talk shows’ first episodes, to get a sense of how far these hosts have come and where the bar has been set for Corden.
Late Show With David Letterman — August 30, 1993
Letterman began his first Late Show episode with plenty of references to his acrimonious split from NBC, including the fact that the network had reportedly threatened legal action if the host’s new show was too similar to his last one.
During the monologue, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw made a surprise appearance. “I’m a little disappointed,” Brokaw told Letterman, taking two of Letterman’s cue cards with him. “The fact is, these last two jokes are the intellectual property of NBC.”
The full episode, featuring guests Bill Murray and Billy Joel, can be seen below.
Late Night With Conan O’Brien — September 13, 1993
In the cold open, the former Saturday Night Live writer is shown cheerfully walking through the city, as everyone reminds him of how much pressure he’s under. “You better be as good as Letterman,” the newsstand worker tells him.
During the episode, O’Brien chatted with sidekick Andy Richter. “Calm yourself — we’ve got to be professional now,” O’Brien tells Richter after Richter sounds shocked that they have their own show. “We can’t act like guys who are too young to be on TV.”
John Goodman, Drew Barrymore and Tony Randall were the guests.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart — July 21, 1996
Stewart, who was taking the reins from former host Craig Kilborn, opened his first show with a joke about the switch: “Craig Kilborn is on assignment in Kuala Lumpur. I’m Jon Stewart.”
Next, Stewart focused on Bill Clinton‘s impeachment trial in a segment called, “The Final Blow.”
A clip from the episode can be seen below.
Fallon began his move to the storied NBC timeslot by thanking the people who helped him find success, including his real-life parents, who were in the audience.
“I wish I could have gotten you better seats,” Fallon quipped about the fact that his folks were too far away for him to hear what they were saying.
The segment can be seen below.
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