Taylor Tomlinson is entering her late-night era. The 30-year-old comedian is the host of her own new show, After Midnight.
It premieres on Wednesday on CBS at 12:37 a.m., following The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The spot was previously occupied by The Late Late Show, hosted by James Corden, whose eight-year tenure as host ended in April 2023. Since then, CBS has filled the time slot by airing episodes of Byron Allen’s Comics Unleashed.
Tomlinson, a successful stand-up comic with millions of followers across social media platforms, has released multiple Netflix specials and is stepping in as the only woman currently hosting a late-night network TV show.
‘The smartest show on television about the dumbest things on the internet’
After Midnight takes over for The Late Late Show, which ran for 28 years under four different hosts, with Corden ending its most recent run.
According to CBS, the show is “inspired by Comedy Central’s Emmy Award-winning series @midnight” and will be “the smartest show on television about the dumbest things on the internet.” It will feature a panel of comics, actors and other celebrities weighing in on internet buzz in a game-show format.
“It's going to be some improv and playing around and banter and that talk show aspect, of course. But for the most part, these are jokes, these are like the smartest jokes about the dumbest things on the internet that day,” Tomlinson told CBS New York.
‘When I first started, obviously I was very clean’
Tomlinson began her comedy career as a teenager when her father signed them both up for stand-up lessons.
“When I first started, obviously I was very clean. I was 16 years old. Very sheltered. I mean, I hadn't dated. I hadn't had sex. I hadn't done much of anything. And so, I think the jokes I was doing were probably a) pretty observational, and b) very self-deprecating. Probably to, like, a point where it might've been a little sad, actually,” Tomlinson told CBS Sunday Morning.
She then started performing stand-up at school venues, coffee shops and church shows.
Tomlinson’s mother died when she was 8. She told CBS Sunday Morning that stand-up became an outlet for her grief.
“I started writing jokes about losing my mom when I was much younger. But they were very, like, hit or miss as far as how often they would work, because I was doing them, you know, on Sunset Friday night. And everybody was like, ‘We’re kinda here trying to get laid.’” she explained.
Her star began to rise when she competed in NBC's Last Comic Standing in 2015 and was a top 10 finalist.
She continued to grow as a stand-up comic. In 2018, Tomlinson had a 15-minute set on Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, and that same year, she was named one of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch.” In March 2020, she appeared in her first Netflix special, Quarter-Life Crisis. She’s since released 2022’s Look at You on the streaming service and her latest special, Have It All, is out Feb. 13.
The women who came before her
Although female late-night hosts are rare, Tomlinson has been preceded by a number of legendary female comics who had their own shows.
It’s said that the first ever host of a late-night show was a woman. Five years before Tonight Starring Steve Allen premiered on NBC in 1954, there was 1949's The Faye Emerson Show on CBS.
Joan Rivers, who has been credited in the past as being the first female late-night host, began helming Fox’s The Late Show in 1986, according to Deadline. Six years later, a young Whoopi Goldberg launched a syndicated late-night show, The Whoopi Goldberg Show.
In 2000, Cynthia Garrett hosted a network late-night show, NBC’s Later. She told HuffPost in 2017, “I still can’t tell you why it was canceled.”
Then Wanda Sykes and Mo'Nique took on their own late-night talk shows on Fox and BET respectively. Chelsea Handler hosted E!'s Chelsea Lately from 2007 to 2014. And in 2016, Samantha Bee launched TBS’s Full Frontal after she was passed over to replace Jon Stewart as host on The Daily Show.
In 2019, Lilly Singh broke ground by making the transition from YouTube to becoming the first woman of color and the first openly bisexual network TV late-night host in 2019, as NBC launched A Little Late. Singh announced in 2021 that she was “saying goodbye” to the show.
Streaming platforms have also launched late-night shows with female hosts, like Amber Ruffin’s The Amber Ruffin Show, which is available on Peacock.
How fellow late-night hosts are welcoming Tomlinson
When Stephen Colbert, who is an executive producer for After Midnight, announced the show in November, he said it’s “a tough gig to fill.”
“We’ll need someone who is fun, likable, young, in touch with online trends and available every night of the week,” he said. “Welcome the latest late-night host, Taylor Tomlinson!”