There’s been some talk in recent weeks, since CBS installed a showrunner on The Late Show, that Stephen Colbert has struggled to set himself apart from the late-night competition. The beloved host of The Colbert Report has an identity problem. In comments with the New York Times, Chelsea Handler also pointed to one of the problems with Colbert’s The Late Show: “He didn’t go in and make a different show. He’s just following in the footsteps of someone else.” Colbert hasn’t figured out what the show should be, and while it’s competitive in the ratings, it’s trailing behind in the metric that matters most in 2016: YouTube views.
All the other late-night hosts have created signature segments that do well the next morning on the internet, but Colbert hasn’t yet found his niche. He wants to be something akin to The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight, but he’s trapped between Letterman and The Colbert Report. The man needs a huge viral hit to help distinguish his show, because — for better or worse — virality is what is driving late night now.
As Colbert continues to try and figure it out, let’s take a moment to look back on the most important viral videos in late-night history, the ones that established the hosts and helped to sculpt late night into what it has become.
10. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: New York Pizza Vs. Chicago Pizza
Every other video on the list below involves celebrities, music and/or important social or political issues, but Jon Stewart’s defense of New York pizza on The Daily Show is the best food rant in television history, five minutes that decides the New York vs. Chicago Pizza debate once and for all. If anyone ever suggests to you that Chicago Style pizza is better, shut them down for all time with this.