If you were feeling like Stephen Colbert’s version of The Late Show was different from other late night chat shows, it turns out you were right, and FiveThirtyEight has the stats to back it up.
The site has broken down Colbert’s guests over his first hundred episodes, as well as the guests of his rivals, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. Not surprisingly, all three shows booked more actors than anything else. As author Ben Lindbergh put it, actors are “the lifeblood of late night,” because they’re well known, funny, and always have something to promote. That said, Colbert booked fewer actors than his competitors.
When you get into the non-actor guests, however, the differences start to become clearer. Colbert booked way more politicians, writers, business people, and scientists than the two Jimmys, and fewer comedians, musicians, and athletes.
So is Colbert’s new highbrow take on late night working out for him? According to FiveThirtyEight, the data is still inconclusive. While he is doing better than late-career Letterman, he’s still getting crushed by the juggernaut that is Fallon, and is having trouble generating online buzz as well. As the article notes:
Generating YouTube traffic has proven to be an even higher hurdle for Colbert, the oldest of the three hosts, whose audience is also older, on average, than the competing late-night programs’. That could be because CBS draws an older audience across the board, but it could also be because the financial, political and social leaders Colbert gravitates toward tend to be older than the actors his rivals prefer. Archbishops, theoretical physicists and UN Secretaries-General may make for great conversation, but they’re less likely to play Egg Russian Roulette.
If he only he could get New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan to smash an egg on his head.