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Why Chicago needs its own late-night talk show

Written by
James Kamp
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It's well known that Chicago has a world class comedy scene and that some of the best comedians in the country got their start here.

What Chicago does not have is any industry for comedy. Comedians can get to a certain level in Chicago, but then have no choice but to move on and chase their dreams elsewhere. When you think of Saturday Night Live, you immediately think of New York City. But where is Chicago's SNL? Our Daily Show? Our Tonight Show?

I argue that the production of a major network late-night comedy show would drastically change the future of Chicago. Not just for a handful of comics, but also for thousands of professionals and businesses that would benefit from the jobs and tourism dollars that would flow into the city.

Here are five reasons Chicago need its own late-night talk show.

1. Chicago has world-class talent: Chicago's recent comedy growth has been phenomenal, and a big reason is stage time. Not only are there major clubs but now there is a colossal comedy scene with a ton of open mics and independent showcases. Just six years ago years ago, there were only three or four open mic nights in the city. Today there are well over 50. Sure, that means there are a lot of novices in the mix, but it also means the vets are getting so good it's scary.

2. The fan base is spectacular: America is in the midst of a comedy boom. A big part of that is due to the advent of the Internet and the comedy super-fans that curate and support their favorite artists. Nowhere is this more apparent than Chicago, where independent showcases have been the vanguard of this new boom. A late-night, comedy-focused show would simply pour some gasoline on a scene that's already on fire.

3. There's built-in appeal: If any city was constructed for a late-night show, it's Chicago. The city's amazing views, stunning architecture, world-class theaters, award-winning restaurants and great nightlife culture would all complement a major late-night show.

4. The media infrastructure is already in place: A major late-night TV show would create so many new opportunities in Chicago it's not even funny. But that's not to say a dynamic TV industry doesn't already exist here. Several national live shows are shot here, and the local TV news industry is fantastic. Inserting a late-night property into the mix would be a perfect fit.

5. Perfect timing: Everyone knows television is changing. Content streaming has flipped the script, and old models don't really work anymore. Sitcoms are dying out and the major players are scrambling to produce new content. Big independent production companies like David Letterman's Worldwide Pants are actively seeking "alternative pitches." So the question becomes, "Why not a Chicago-based show? Is it not our time?"

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