January 23, 2018

Comedy Central Should Appoint a Woman to Replace Jon Stewart

In her Academy Awards acceptance speech for receiving an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette got a rousing welcome from legend Meryl Streep and other women in the Oscar ceremony crowd when she called for equal pay for women in the movies.

It’s time for equal pay and equal opportunity for women in television, too, which means that Viacom’s Comedy Central should name a woman to replace Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”

And I have a candidate – Laurie Kilmartin. Laurie is currently the only female monologue writer for Conan and has been a successful female stand-up comedian and writer.  She’s very smart, knows politics and is tough enough to stand up to the macho male political blowhards and bloviators who Jon Stewart was so magnificent at deflating.

Larry Wilmore has added some welcome diversity as Stephen Colbert’s replacement in the time slot that follows “The Daily Show,” but to succeed in the 11:30 p.m. time slot, Wilmore needs a strong lead-in from the “The Daily Show” at 11:00 p.m.  If Wilmore and Stewart’s replacement for “The Daily Show” don’t do well in the ratings, Viacom’s response will more than likely be to do what it’s typically done in the past and increase commercial time.

Joe Flint in the Wall Street Journal had a revealing article  on February 18, titled “Cable TV Shows Are Sped Up To Squeeze In More Ads,” and the worst offender, with 24.2 minutes of commercials in an hour, was Viacom’s BET.

Twenty-four minutes of commercial time in an hour; what a self-defeating, greedy travesty. No wonder people are cutting the chord and paying to watch exciting commercial-free programming such as Netflix’s “House of Cards.”

Therefore, Viacom should try something radical and newsworthy by choosing the right woman to replace Jon Stewart. A woman-for-a-woman’s sake would be cynical and would work against Comedy Central, but the right woman would give the network a much-needed boost.

My suspicion is that Comedy Central will make a “safe” choice of a white male, that the ratings of “The Daily Show” will decline and that the network, under profit pressure from Viacom, will increase the commercial load, which in turn will start a vicious cycle of turning off viewers, lowering ratings and adding more commercials.

Welcome to the land of stupid, suicidal cable programming.