Last week, Fox News Channel’s late night show Gutfeld! marked its sixth straight week as the most-watched show of the entire late night, beating CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen ColbertNBC The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and ABC Jimmy Kimmel Live—with FNC topping broadcast networks even through their fall premieres. So what explains the ratings power of a show that debuted only a year ago?
“I think after 18 months it’s become a date,” said Tom O’Connor, executive producer of Gutfeld! “Part of the reason is that audiences really connected with some of the new guests we introduced them to, but they also got to see FNC stars let loose for an hour.”
On Wednesday evening, one of these stars was fox and friends co-host Steve Doocy, who drew a long laugh and a few ooooohs with his joke that Democrats were “haunted by the idea of a red wave, while Bill Clinton is haunted by the idea of a blue dress”.
Night after night, Gutfeld! gives viewers a late version of The five with an even weirder group of guests, like putting a Fox News device like Doocy alongside Fox News contributors Kat Timpf and George Murdoch (better known by his wrestling name, Tyrus), and actor and comedian Terrence K. Williams. This week’s guests even included Jared Kushner, awkwardly casual in a black crew-neck sweater and jeans.
“You see someone like Dana Perino or Brian Kilmeade being funny in their own right, sharing the stage with longtime comedians like Jamie Lissow or Joe Devito, and it works,” O’Connor said. “And of course success has a lot to do with Greg, Kat and Tyrus not being afraid to speak their minds because they usually have something unexpected and hilarious to say. Ultimately, it’s really a testament to Fox News for having the courage to give them, the show, and the producers that freedom.
Last week, Gutfeld! was the only late-night program on television to attract an average audience of over 2 million viewers (Colbert had a total audience of 1.867 million, Fallon drew 1.481 million, and Kimmel had 1.3 million). Comedy Central The daily show was far from close, with a total audience of 349,000 viewers.
“Without a doubt, it’s a great place for us writers and producers to have the space to take comedic risks (whether in Greg’s monologues or sketches),” O’Connor said. “Which seems a little rarer these days in a traditional late night. I really think the public recognizes it and can appreciate it. Whether or not they like a certain joke, they respect the fact that we’re one of the only ones doing it.