Although replacing America's curmudgeon won't be easy, you better believe David Letterman's vacant late-night seat come 2015 will be hotly contested real estate. In keeping with the master's signature Top 10s, we offer up a list of viable — or, if not entirely realistic, at least potentially awesome — candidates:
An obvious pick, mainly because there's speculation that Ferguson, who's been hosting the show right after Dave for nine years now, has contractual dibs on the Late Show gig — or a huge buyout from CBS. Ferguson is funny, but would his move make a splash big enough to compete with Jimmys Fallon and Kimmel?
The late-night talk show realm is in serious need of some estrogen, and Tina is the perfect lady for the job. She's already proven she's a tremendous host (see: Golden Globes) and that she can expertly read jokes off a teleprompter (see: SNL's Weekend Update). Chances are she wouldn't want, or need, to take the Late Show gig, considering she's developing two comedy pilots for two networks — and neither of them are for CBS. But she'd be a refreshing voice in late night, for sure.
Yeah, we just went there. Come on, you did, too. Okay, moving on...
Larry David's lovable archenemy talks funnier and faster than just about any of her celeb pals. She's not afraid to speak her mind with acerbic gusto, and yet even those getting the brunt of her barbs can't help but laugh along. It's time for the Next Big Thing to go from sidekick to main attraction.
How's this for timing: Colbert's contract with Comedy Central, where he does The Colbert Report four nights a week, runs through the end of 2014. If he's looking for a change, somewhere he can get much bigger ratings and a fancier set, this could be a good spot for him. As he proved recently when he dealt with that #CancelColbert crisis, the guy is an incredibly savvy host. Then again, would he ever break the character he plays on the Report to take on something like this?
The standup prince and Parks and Recreation cutup understands not just how Young Hip America lives — but why they live that way. Fallon is a master of social-media buzz, but Ansari takes things deeper without losing his eye on the funny parts. This pick is probably too hip for mainstream late night — but hey, we once said the same thing about Dave.
Uh, did Louis C.K. know something the rest of us didn't? The third season of his FX show Louie contained an arc about Letterman's retirement and CBS execs offering the job to Louie — way back in 2012. The standup comedian/showrunner has already gone on the record as saying he wouldn't host a late-night show, but just like those executives on Louie who thought he'd be right for the job, we think it'd be fun to see C.K. do something like this.
He alienated half of La-La Land when he hosted the Golden Globes a few years ago. (Here he is introducing Colin Firth: "He's also swooned over by women. I don't see it. Good luck to him. ... He's very racist. I mean, really nasty stuff. Also, I've seen him punch a little blind kitten.") But taking some of the pomp out of that bloated town is just what it needs. That said, would he find enough people to do his show?
Lynch hosts Hollywood Game Night on NBC, a marginally entertaining game show that's made infinitely better by her easygoing nature and quick quips. Most importantly, it shows how at ease she is palling around with all kinds of celebs. Throw in her history of helming the 2011 Emmy Awards and you've got some serious potential.
Dave's first guest, Dave's best guest — and we're willing to bet Dave's final guest. Equally unpredictable and irascible, all parts charm and prickle, the reclusive Murray gets the vibe of Letterman's magic better than anyone else out there. Of course, he spends most of his time as a total recluse, but just imagine the possibilities.