Late night talk show host feels like a forever job based on the runs enjoyed by Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien. It’s supposed to be a 20- or 30-year endeavor that completely defines someone’s legacy. There’s no time for side work, no being a movie star and the host of a talk show. But maybe things are changing.
Craig Ferguson hosted The Late Late Show for just nine years when he decided to move on to something else. Jon Stewart had only been hosting The Daily Show for 16 years when he passed the baton to Trevor Noah. Both left intrigued by the idea of new challenges and maybe a little exhausted by the grind.
In a new interview with Variety in advance of his stint as Academy Awards host, Jimmy Kimmel is hinting that he may want to try his hand at something new after his contract to host Jimmy Kimmel Live (which launched in 2003) comes to a close in 2019. Emphasis on “may.” This isn’t a declaration that he’s about to walk away, of course, just an indication that he might have some curiosity about what’s next and when next is. And why wouldn’t he?
As Kimmel stated in the interview, his wife is pregnant and he’d “like to have a little more free time.” Kimmel also told the magazine that while he will “miss it” when he leaves, he wants to leave on his “own terms” when the time comes and that he gets “a lot of offers to do a lot of different things” while indicating that another late night show wouldn’t be in the cards.
It’s easy to forget that while they are insanely lucrative and look like a ton of fun, the job of a late night talk show host demands a lot of time and energy. We really shouldn’t be shocked when someone starts thinking about doing something else. Ferguson has gone on to host a game show, a different kind of talk show, hit the road on a stand-up tour, and now he’s about to do a daily radio show for Sirius. Stewart is creating a sanctuary for animals. They did their time, they made their mark (and their money) and now they want to do something else. And now, more than in previous decades, there are a lot more avenues for these talents to pursue and a lot more ways to feel creatively fulfilled.
All this is to say, don’t be shocked if Jimmy Fallon someday announces that he’s leaving The Tonight Show to star in Taxi 2.