Taylor Tomlinson: Meet America’s Newest Late-Night Host

This week it was announced that twenty-nine-year-old stand-up comedian Taylor Tomlinson will be taking over from James Corden as CBS’s newest late-night talk show host. With a hefty following on TikTok and two hugely successful Netflix specials under her belt, Tomlinson will be joining the ranks of TV veterans Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon. She will also be the only woman in the role of host. 

Despite a loyal following and celebrity endorsements from Stephen Colbert and Conan O’Brien, both of whom have previously praised her work, Tomlinson has little known connection with the broadcasting world. 

So, who is Taylor Tomlinson, and what can we expect her to bring to Late Night? 

Tomlinson started performing stand-up when she was sixteen years old. Growing up in a “very religious” environment (which provides the source for much of her comedy), she first began performing in church basements and high school venues. In 2015, she had a breakthrough when she became a top-10 finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and has since gone on to do international tours.

“I’ve never had a real job!” she told Stephen Colbert, half-gleefully and half-anxiously when her new role was announced.  

Tomlinson, it appears, has always been ahead of her time and when it comes to Late Night, at twenty-nine, she will become the youngest late-night host by more than two decades.

“If you don’t know who I am,” she reassured Colbert’s audience, “don’t worry. I barely know myself.”

Famous for her tightly written, self-deprecating humour, Tomlinson shot to fame in 2020 with her hit Netflix special Quarter-Life Crisis, followed two years later by her follow-up Look At You. Her first special revolved around the ups and downs of being in your twenties. 

“God, I’m sick of my twenties,” she said to the crowd in Quarter-Life Crisis. “They’re not fun. They are ten years of asking yourself will I outgrow this, or is it a problem?”

Covering topics ranging from online dating and social media blues to therapy revelations and mental health struggles, it’s no wonder Tomlinson has found a following online in a younger generation hungry for stand-up reflecting their own concerns. 

Her new late-night show, due to air in 2024, is called After Midnight and will apparently be based on Comedy Central’s @midnight With Chris Hardwick which followed a panel-show format in its 2013-2017 run. It will be produced by production company Funny or Die, and Colbert will act as an executive producer.

The decision to choose a host with a powerful social-media presence suggests CBS have been thinking differently about their 12:30am slot since the appointment of James Corden in 2015. Speaking to Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes on the podcast Smartless, Corden recalled a conversation he had with CBS’s Nina Tassler and Les Moonves about how he thought the show could be run:

“If you don’t make a show that embraces the internet,” Corden recalled saying, “there’s no point doing it. I said you’ve got to make a show for kids and stoners. They all still want to watch Late Night. They just don’t have a TV and they don’t care about a schedule.”

Corden went on to find huge online success with popular bits including “Carpool Karaoke”, “Crosswalk the Musical” and “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” going frequently viral on YouTube. 

The appointment of Taylor Tomlinson as CBS’s latest late-night host is something of a shakeup for cable television. She’s young, unknown by many, and yet has more than fifteen years of experience and two highly successful stand-up specials to her name. If she is as whip-smart and original as she is in her Netflix specials, this promises to be a very exciting turn of events.