No one was particularly surprised when Craig Ferguson announced his retirement from The Late Late Show earlier this year, once Stephen Colbert was confirmed as David Letterman’s replacement. (It was especially unsurprising if you consider that he’s rumored to be receiving at the very least $5 million in compensation from CBS.) His replacement, British comic James Corden, was something of a surprise. But nothing, so far, has raised as many eyebrows as Monday’s announcement, listing the guest hosts who’ll be filling in between Ferguson’s exit in December and Corden’s start in spring of next year: Among the many notable, likeable, talented comics (and, for some reason, John Mayer) on the list, there was not one woman.
It seemed like a bizarre move, and although there was some furious backpedalling to assure people that this isn’t the final list and that CBS has plenty of women under consideration (binders full of them, presumably), two days later, there’s been no update. Of all those who criticized the announcement, it was comic Sara Schaefer—who performed at Time Out’s Women of Comedy 2014 show last month—who said it best in this tweet:
Ok CBS. Fine. Don't ask any women to host a late night show for ONE hour. But to let JOHN MAYER do it? You're just trolling us at this point— Sara Schaefer (@saraschaefer1) December 1, 2014
We followed up with Schaefer to see what else she had to say on the matter, and the results, predictably, were both insightful and hilarious. “We all know tons of female comedians—famous and otherwise—who could knock it out of the park as a guest host,” she said when asked who she would have liked to see included alongside Drew Carey, Jim Gaffigan, Will Arnett, Wayne Brady and the other men on the list. “For anyone to have to name them is silly. But hey, if we're opening it up to John Mayer, it could be literally any woman. Susan Boyle. Angela Merkel. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Dressel.”
Photograph: Filip Wolak
CBS’ claim that the list wasn’t finalized yet was met with similar frustration. “I have read that CBS did reach out to some women who couldn't do it, and that they aren't done booking yet, and that they intend on getting some women in there. But then why put out a press release? Why not wait a week or two until you can confirm a more diverse lineup? That's the part where I just think, hey, they aren't listening and they don't care. Which is entirely in their right—they’re a business and they can make their own decisions. But that doesn't mean we can't feel disappointed—they had an opportunity to change the face of late night, and they chose not to. The lack of diversity in these guest spots, it feels so tone deaf. None of this means I think that Colbert or James Corden or any of the men guest hosting aren't qualified: It's just disappointing, and makes me feel like the networks still see women (and anyone who isn't a white man) as inferior or too risky for these types of spots. These opportunities are like comets; they only come around like once a decade. It's discouraging. But I think by the next time, television will have changed so much maybe we won't be having this conversation at all. All the talented people who don't fit the traditional late night host mold are finding other ways to reach an audience, and that is exciting.”
It’ll be interesting, in light of all this, to see CBS’s final confirmed schedule of guest hosts. But in the meantime, guys, if you’re looking for ideas, we’ve got some suggestions for the funniest women in NYC right here.