There can be no US late night television without inter-host drama, and there can be no inter-host drama without giddy fans drawing life from it.
Jimmy Fallon might’ve started out hot as the cool king of late night, but thanks in large part to the infamous “tousle heard ’round the world” the new Grand Poobah is Stephen Colbert.
Colbert’s ‘Late Show‘ has been soundly trouncing Fallon’s quickly stagnating ‘Tonight Show‘ for nine consecutive weeks now, with viewers preferring Colbert’s more political slant to Fallon’s cutesy dancing with celebrities and overblown forced laughter.
It’s not just the viewers enjoying Colbert’s new-found dominance either. The staff at the ‘Late Show‘ are reaping all the benefits of suddenly being the king.
It turns out that staff at the show are routinely rewarded for ratings victories over Fallon’s former ‘Tonight Show‘ behemoth with the majesty of pizza.
A New York Times profile of the surging show details how Colbert finally found his footing on network TV on the infamous US election night live episode when executive producer Chris Licht instructed Colbert to stop being funny and start being real and true to himself.
What’s followed is an unprecedented run of success for the CBS show, which has traditionally lagged behind various iterations of NBC‘s ‘Tonight Show‘ institution, and Colbert is rewarding his staff by chucking a pizza party every time the ratings come in with them ahead.
“Pizza!” has become a catch cry for victory in the Colbert offices, with staff now-routinely celebrating success when the weekly ratings come in each Tuesday.
“Throughout the offices of “The Late Show,” staff members could be heard saying, “Pizza! Pizza!” — celebrating a reward that comes on Tuesdays when they beat “The Tonight Show” in the ratings.”
So there you go. A pizza-fed TV staff is a happy TV staff.
And it would appear that the only thing ‘The Late Show‘ team is hungry for now, is more ratings.