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Arts & Life

Small Batch: Late-Night Comedy And The 2016 Election

Samantha Bee is the host of <em>Full Frontal With Samantha Bee</em>.
Samantha Bee is the host of <em>Full Frontal With Samantha Bee</em>.

The twists and turns of the 2016 election — not to mention the characters at the top of each major-party ticket — provide many opportunities for comedy. But it's tough out there for late-night joke-makers, who face more competition than ever, not to mention a social-media landscape in which seemingly every possible quip is being made in real time.

The marketplace feels especially crowded on late-night television, where old standbys (Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show) are up against well-known late-night hosts (Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, James Corden, Conan O'Brien, et al), upstarts on cable (TBS's Samantha Bee, HBO's John Oliver, Fox News' Greg Gutfeld) and streaming services (Netflix's Chelsea Handler), and thousands of commentators on social media.

In this Small Batch edition of Pop Culture Happy Hour, Glen Weldon and I break down the late-night field at the end of this bruising election season: how it gets by in a Jon Stewart-less landscape, how frequently it tilts in one political direction, how important it is to have a strong point of view, and how hard it is to stand out and say something new.

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