We’re at week three of The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS and things are looking pretty bright for the British funnyman. Reviews have fortunately been generous for Corden, but better yet have been his ratings. Having secured the job as a virtual unknown in America, there wasn’t much of a turnout expected for the show’s inaugural week, let alone ratings that were on par with NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. So what is it exactly that audiences are responding to? It’s probably the fact he’s a human teddy bear.
Before we get into that, let’s talk about who this James Corden is anyways. Back in the UK, he’s a household name, between his theatrical work and countless television endeavors (writing/acting/directing – busy guy), even earning his OBE this past year in drama. For a primer on what to check out, queue up these gems: Gavin & Stacey (starring & co-written with Ruth Jones), The Wrong Mans (again, starring & co-written with Mathew Baynton), his appearance on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2012, any episode of his comedy-sports panel show A League of Their Own, his performance as The Baker in last year’s movie-musical spectacle Into the Woods, or watch clips of his brilliant, award-winning turns on stage in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys and Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors. Oh, and remember that time he tried to save Africa?! “SMITTHYYY!!”
If you’ve watched any of Corden’s Late Late Show run so far, then you’re already aware that this guy is brimming with charisma. He doesn’t take part in a traditional talk show format, preferring to cozy up right next to his night’s guests in more of a roundtable discussion, a la Graham Norton. Part of Corden’s charm relies on the fact that he’s insanely likeable. It’s hard not to be endeared by someone whose got the optimism and head-first enthusiasm that’s normally only found in children. We’re lucky Hollywood hasn’t hardened him just yet, because otherwise something like #TommysHouse would have never happened. You remember #TommysHouse, right? This past Thursday, Corden and his team hit the streets of Los Angeles, live on camera, and started knocking on doors hoping to find a random resident who’d allow them to host that night’s show in their living room. It. was. bonkers.
It’s exactly the off-the-wall, unpredictable type of thing that’s made The Late Late Show such a success. So far, it seems like Jimmy Fallon has been running the game in late night, and rightly so, but with Corden’s arrival we’re witnessing the early days of a unique comedic voice that hasn’t really been seen in late night since Fallon’s own humble beginnings. In interviews leading up to the show’s premiere and in every second of the show that’s aired thus far, Corden has shown nothing but sincere gratitude for the job’s he’s been given and acute awareness about how unbelievably underqualified he is for the task, but that in no way is going to stop him from taking the risks necessary to make his show a beast of its own that’s worthy of the Late Late Show banner. Whether it’s through beautiful sentiment or making silly, unpretentious sketches like this, Corden is carving his own path in the American television landscape and he’s doing a pretty great job so far.
It’s not like The Late Late Show with James Corden is a radical alternative to the late night format, but it’s the only network talk show that feels like it’s hosted by a friend. “Everyman” James Corden. Except not every man is endorsed by CBS, has worked alongside Meryl Streep, and has a Tony Award, but that’s beside the point. He’s relatable, weird, has no idea what he’s doing, and has a belly laugh that makes the sun shine brighter. Tune in to his show, follow him on Twitter, make this guy a huge success. He deserves it so hard.