Good news, everyone: The late-night comedy fraternity has selected its newest pledge. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper will soon have his own daily-ish show, at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central. The show will run Monday-Thursday, like most other late-night comedy shows, though it doesn't have a format or even a full title as of yet. But here's what I'm imagining it will be: A white man sitting at a desk reciting funny, funny jokes about the daily news. Occasionally, a woman will appear and crack a few herself. Here's what it could have been: A woman, sitting at a desk, reciting funny jokes about the news. Alas, that is not to be.
There's no denying that Klepper is talented. As a correspondent on The Daily Show, he's both wry and amiable, a perfect blend of skepticism and cynicism. Comedy Central President Kent Alterman said in a statement, "Jordan's talent has become so increasingly obvious it would take a real fool to not offer him this opportunity." But, sir, it would also take a real fool to offer this coveted 11:30 p.m. slot to a white man. The time was last occupied by Larry Wilmore, with the lauded talk show The Nightly Show. When he was ousted in August, we bemoaned the fact that comedy had become more white, and more dude-heavy. And look at that! Here we are again.
How does this keep happening? How is it that two years after Vanity Fair's all-man "late-night comedy" spread, the landscape has only added more white men?
Let's look at the current players. First, late-night comedy shows — really, late-night talk shows — are defined by their timing and regularity. They must occur at least four times a week and they must be during prime time. (Daytime talk shows are largely populated by women hosts, and that's a discussion for another day.) Here's who you'll find on the current roster:
Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
James Corden on The Late Late Show with James Corden
Stephen Colbert on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
Trevor Noah on The Daily Show
Seth Meyers on Late Night With Seth Meyers
Conan O'Brien on Conan
Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Who's missing? Oh, right. Women. Granted, The Daily Show's Samantha Bee has a show of her own, but it airs once a week on Wednesday. This excludes it from being a late-night talk show. So, the question remains: Where are all the women in late night? It's not as if they're hiding. In fact, Comedy Central, we have a whole list of women comedians for you to choose from. Klepper's appointment feels like a missed opportunity to inject late night with some much-needed gender diversity.
Orli Matlow, a New York-based stand-up comedian, echoes this sentiment. "There's no doubt that Jordan Klepper is a really talented dude, but being denied a woman in the White House in this era, I was hoping to at least get to see a woman behind the desk at Comedy Central," Matlow tells me. "With Daily Show alum Samantha Bee doing such brilliant — and viral! — work over at TBS, it's surprising that Comedy Central didn't want to take the opportunity to install their own matriarchy."
Matlow raises an excellent point — under our current administration, the issue of gender diversity feels especially salient. If we can't have a woman in the White House, surely we can start a revolution from the humorous side of things, right? Unfortunately, it seems Comedy Central has opted out of that line of defense.
Comedy Central has seen its own change of administration. As the Times reports, the network's longtime president Michele Ganeless took her leave in May of 2016. Alterman, who praised Klepper's talent, took her place. Fast Company cited declining ratings as the reason behind Ganeless' resignation. In the months since her departure, The Nightly Show was canceled, and the new series Detroiters and The High Court with Doug Benson premiered. Both of the new shows revolve around men. Today, Comedy Central announced that it has acquired The President Show, featuring the comedian Anthony Atamanuik as President Donald Trump. So, the network now has three talk shows, one of which features the white man at the helm of this country. For now, Comedy Central's women report card doesn't look that swell.
Of course, this is still the same network that gives us Broad City and Another Period, both female-led sitcoms. It's entirely possible that Klepper's show won't just be a show for men. (This is a pitfall that Late Night With Seth Meyers has managed to avoid.) Klepper could, for one, hire more than a few women writers. As Splitsider announced, The President Show will have four women writers in a writing staff of 10. Two of these women writers are women of color. Klepper has an opportunity to do the same, or perhaps even better. Matlow disclosed that, hey, she'd love to be considered.
"All this said, how can I submit a packet to write for Klepper's show?" Matlow added, "The fact that I feel weird speaking up about this is precisely why we need a matriarchy in the first place."
Klepper has not yet responded to a request for comment.
It’s 2017, and yet women are still fighting for equality. Data suggests it will take until 2152 to close the gender wage gap, but it shouldn’t take a century to get what we want. We want more, and Refinery29 is here to help — because 135 years is too long to wait for what we deserve today.