the war for late night

Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Retta, and 34 Other Female Comedians on Whether They Would Want to Be a Late-Night Host

Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson and Photos by Getty Images

Many people looked at Vanity Fair’s recent late-night-host photo and saw a problem: ten hosts, ten men. It reignited the debate that’s been going on for decades: Why are there not more women in late night? The most obvious answer is straight-up misogyny. But, especially after word came out that Amy Schumer flat-out turned down The Daily Show, some have argued that women shouldn’t aspire to such an antiquated form as a late-night talk show anyway. It’s not unlike what Nancy Meyers said about the lack of female directors. “Even I was saying for a minute that maybe women just don’t want to direct the big-cape movies or tentpole movies because maybe they can’t really relate,” she told New York. “Now I’m thinking that’s not even true. Let’s not assume women don’t want in on those kind of movies. Women can direct dinosaurs.” And they can host late-night shows. So, with Trevor Noah debuting tonight as the host of The Daily Show, Vulture decided not to assume anything, and just ask female comedians directly.

Below is a list of 37 women comedians — some giants, some veterans, some buzzed-about up-and-comers — whom we asked a few simple questions: Would you want to host a late-night show (if it were to be your only career focus)? If so, what would the show be like? If not, why? We found many comedians who don’t want to host late-night shows, others who’ve excitedly taken meetings for their own shows, and ambivalence in between.

Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) and Tina Fey
Mindy Kaling: “No, I don’t want to have a talk show. Because it’s really a grind.”
Tina Fey: “It’s like working at a post-office grind.”
MK: “I don’t know if I’d have the energy to talk about why this actress is selling aloe juice or whatever. ‘Tell me, where did you get the idea?’”
TF: “A woman should have one, for sure. But so much of the dynamic of shows like that is like, ‘I’m a young actress,’ and if you don’t want to fuck that young actress, then why are you talking to her? Here’s the other thing: What would you wear?”
MK: “I think about that all the time. Something neutral.”

Retta (@unfoRETTAble)
“I’ve actually taken meetings about hosting a late-night talk show. I don’t know that what we know as a late-night talk show is what I want. But I’ve been talked into a talk show, but it would be different. But I don’t want to tell you what it is because we’re still pitching it. There would be alcohol. I would drink on camera, and my guests have to drink on camera. Kind of like Andy [Cohen]’s show, but a bigger studio, because I’ve done Andy’s show and that shit is hella tight! It’s waaay tight! It’s like four people. I took advantage of the liquor, and I was drunk by the time we finished. It would be more people, but, yes, alcohol.”

Jena Friedman (@JenaFriedman)
“That’s a tough question. If I say no, it will sound like I’m not ‘leaning in,’ whereas if I say yes, it will sound like I’m overly ambitious — either way, I feel like I’ll be putting my foot in my mouth by saying the wrong thing … wanna just ask me my stance on Israel?”

Lisa Lampanelli (@LisaLampanelli)
“Ten years ago, I would’ve said I’d kill for it, because I remember pitching an idea — Chelsea Handler was the producer — for a late-night show on E! to follow hers. She and I pitched it to different networks, I would’ve killed to do it. I thought it was a great idea: Chelsea’s was focused a lot on the panel and interviewing celebrities, but mine would have had more segment ideas and definitely would have been a talk-show format with a monologue and other guests. I wanted it so badly ten years ago because I wanted validation. People assume you want that because they see other people’s paths and just think that’s what comics are supposed to want. Now my career has become so much more focused on live entertainment and playwriting that, honestly, if you told me I had to host a late-night show I would kill myself, and I’m not even kidding. It’s the hardest job in the world, and my heart wouldn’t be in it. I’m so far beyond thinking TV is right for me, because I know what’s right for me is live and playwriting. I would get fired, and I’d be told to apologize every other day. I also don’t want to work that hard anymore. I’m too old for that.”

Sasheer Zamata (@thesheertruth)
“Actually, when I was younger, I really wanted to host my own late-night show. I would practice on my bathroom counter and interview myself in the mirror. Yeah, I think it’s a cool job. It’s a cool institution, so yeah, I would love the opportunity. I do think I would try to bunk the format that is the standard behind-the-desk interview. I’m not exactly sure what I would do. Maybe more of a loose format that’s more interactive with the audience. Maybe more of a town-hall thing, where we all control the show together.”

Mary Lynn Rajkub (@MaryLynnRajskub)
“Absolutely, as long as I could still have some family life. And can we do it at 10 p.m.? Is that too early? I’m a wife and a mother. Let’s do it. So who do I have to blow to get this started? It would be biting, sarcastic, contemplative, relatable, pro-peace, anti-government, music, art, comedy, and a celebration of the weird and marginalized.”

Rachel Dratch (@TheRealDratch)
“Sure, I would do that! But I would have to be on some weird network. I don’t think I’d fly on, like, a major network. I would host my late-night show on some weird ladies channel, and I’d get a big following. I would do a late-night Lifetime Movie Network ladies chat show, yes. It would be really stereotypical: just chicks drinking rosé, sitting in comfortable chairs. Alcoholic Pumpkin Spice Lattes for fall, easy recipes! This is a horrible show! And just chatting getting really in-depth about people’s’ personal lives and making them cry, like Barbara Walters. And also a band. A chick band! An all-chick band! Chicks playing drums! Chicks playing guitars!”

Tammy Pescatelli (@TammyPescatelli)
“I would host a late-night show if it was in my house. And in my life, like most working mothers who are trying to juggle it all — careers, family, and getting older — late night is about 8:30 p.m. It would be called the The Not-So-Late Show With Tammy Pescatelli! If it was in my house, it would start each night with me putting my son to bed and my husband in front of the TV. From there, The Not-So-Late Show would be just like any other talk show, except celebrity guests would help me with my to-do list. Sandra Bullock’s from Texas: She knows how to wash dishes and fold clothes! And musical guests can perform in a tent in my backyard. When my cranky neighbor walks over to tell me how much he hates country music, let Luke Bryan deal with him!”

Erica Rhodes (@ericarhodes)
“I don’t think I would want to host a late-night show. I was actually called into E! and they asked me if it would interest me to be the ‘next Chelsea Handler,’ and my manager, Bruce Smith, was basically like, ‘Say no. You are not a host.’ And he’s right. You need to have a certain personality type to host a show like that. Very type-A. I am more like a type-B-plus personality type. I am not very organized, and my brain isn’t great at multitasking. So I just don’t think I’d make a very good host. Also, I really don’t have a lot of interest in doing topical humor. It would feel forced for me to talk about current events and politics and stuff. My humor is much more autobiographical. If I did ever host a show, it would have to be very unconventional, but it’s never been my dream job. I would love to host SNL one day, or another show where I can be a guest-host. My dream is to have my own sitcom and continue doing stand-up. That way it’s my voice and my writing and my style. Not some strict format that I have to adhere to night after night.”

Liza Treyger (@GlitterCheese)
“I can’t imagine anything worse than business outfits and jokes about the news. The first half of late night has never interested me, but interviewing celebs seems like the best. I’ve always seen myself wanting to be a sillier (uneducated) Barbara Walters. I just want to chat with people, not recite a rundown of current events.”

Rachel Bloom (@Racheldoesstuff)
“Yes, of course, that would be amazing! I’d probably want to do a form show based around the idea of a variety show, featuring more sketches, musical guests, musical numbers, and maybe some fire-eating acrobats or something. Make it feel like vaudeville.”

Cameron Esposito (@cameronesposito)
“Yeah, sure, I’ll host a late-night show. Are you guys offering? If so, I just need a decade or two to do some other on-camera work, and I’ll meet you there. You can’t really act once you’re in that host seat, and anyway, I prefer a jaded, mid-50s [person] who has seen some shit. Well, I’ve got the smarts of John Oliver, the charm of Stephen Colbert, the looks of Trevor Noah, and I’m exceedingly humble, so it’d clearly be an immediate hit. There’s room on television for a kind, open female host who also pulls no punches and spits utter truth, and that’s me. Or Samantha Bee. That’s her, too. What does my show look like? Three words: action movie karaoke.”

Yvette Nicole Brown (@YNB)
“I would because I like people, and I love talking to people. But I feel like it would be so much pressure, the monologue and the guests. I’d like to say yes because it would terrify me. Though I might be more of a daytime host type of girly. Like, Hey, let’s cook something. Hey, look at what book I’m reading. Late night is sexier. It’s more, Hey, come on over. Have a Courvoisier and let’s chat. I don’t know if I’m a Courvoisier-chat kind of girl, but I’d try it.”

Margaret Cho (@margaretcho)
“I’d love to be a late-night host. I have the chops and could do every job from the monologue to interviewing guests! I’m even qualified to be a decent musical director for the house band. It’s a dream, and I’m determined to make it happen!”

Kelly Oxford (@kellyoxford)
“No. I’ve watched Jimmy Kimmel work from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Nope, thanks.”

Emily Heller (@MrEmilyHeller)
“I’m not sure. Some people approach comedy like, ‘I want to be on Saturday Night Live, and that’s my main goal.’ They know that before they’ve even told a joke. I’m not that way. My approach to my career has always been more, I am going to try to be funny in whatever format I’m best at, in the way that is most authentic to me and what I find funny. I am going to try a bunch of things and see what I have the discipline for, and what I shine at and what people actually want to witness me do. Because I’m a person who changes, like all human people, this has been kind of a shifting target.

I’m learning what I want to do by trying a bunch of different things. I didn’t think I wanted to be a warm-up comic, but I did it, and it was fun and incredibly informative. I didn’t think I wanted to write for sitcoms, but when I got the opportunity, I fell in love with it instantly. I didn’t think I could act, much less on a multi-cam sitcom or anything, but I’ve done that now, too, and it was exhilarating, and it wasn’t a complete disaster, and I kind of liked clipping fake hair onto my head to do it. Long story short, I don’t want a late-night show now, but I’m not ruling it out. And I don’t want to be ruled out either. I’d love to live in a world where I could host a show with my friend Lisa Hanawalt, who is my co-host on the “Baby Geniuses” podcast. Maybe not a traditional late-night talk show. Maybe one where she and I interview people, and then she animates us all as hideous creatures and all our stories get played out visually and you go inside our gross brains, and also there will be cussing, lots of cussing. It will take forever and not be timely at all. Maybe that’s not a late-night show. What’s a late-night show?”

Eliza Skinner (@elizaskinner)
“Absolutely. I would be great at it. I weep for the American public, robbed of the right to see me in a snappy little suit, telling jokes and doing bits with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Lawrence. Weep for them. Would it drive me insane? Limit my ability to pursue other opportunities? Yes and yes. But I love America so much, I would be willing to risk it all. Also, the suit I have in mind is bomb. I like a traditional Carson/Letterman format: monologue, interviews, super-smart host. Although I would probably clown around with the band more. That’s another thing — as long as we’re adding imaginary female hosts, how about a few female bandleaders? My bandleader would be Missy Elliott — no, she’s too great, I would lose my mind. Carly Rae Jepsen? We would be so cute! I’m willing to hear offers.”

Lauren Lapkus (@laurenlapkus)
“I’d be down to host my own late-night show. It would be like every late night at my house: low-key screaming at reality television followed by sad music, face masks, and light reading.”

Loni Love (@LoniLove)
“Yes, a late-night show would be great. My show would have comedy, brown liquor, and fine men.”

Beth Stelling (@BethStelling)
“Yes. This notion is a recent development for me, perhaps due in part to the conversation of where all the women in late night are, and the recent photo of the current men of late night that went viral. More than that, though, Jimmy Kimmel has been a late-night role model of mine. I find his interviews to be the least ostentatious and most sincere. He is genuinely funny, quick-witted, and also down for just about anything (example: His wife and head writer, Molly McNearney, sneaking Rihanna into their home at night to jump on Jimmy’s bed singing ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’). Jimmy saw me perform at UCB and approached me afterward with an invitation to do stand-up on his show. Then, when it actually happened, I saw another side of Jimmy Kimmel Live you don’t get to see on your TV. He has surrounded himself with good people, a handful of them are actually family members. Shortly after that, I was very close to being hired as a writer, so I met with the brilliant head writers he’s chosen (Molly McNearney and Danny Ricker) and peered into that integral side of the show that I respect so much. What I’m saying is, the way Jimmy and his team run JKL is exciting and inspirational. It’s a classy, hilarious television show I would love to emulate.

I am a stand-up comedian, so the show would open with stand-up so I could connect with the audience; however, I’d love for an interview to fill the remainder of the show. A longer conversation without pressure to have over-the-top, punchy stories is more interesting and would promote a different relationship between the guest and host. I’m a warm, caring person, and a conversationalist. I’m also very sharp and funny. Think Dick Cavett meets Tiny Fey.”

Jo Firestone (@kingfirestorm)
“Yes, yes, yes. That’s the dream. There’s something so magical and nostalgic about the late-night talk-show host. He’s the guy who essentially tucks America into bed at night. And while the role has traditionally been given to a man, female comedians can easily do it, too. Hell, a child comedian could do it, and that’d probably be an incredible late-night talk show. But, yes, to answer to your question, I would happily tuck America into bed at night. Content-wise, I don’t know if these late-night shows are all that different from each other, and I don’t think they need to be. There’s comfort in how simple they are. People are watching these things when they’re about to go to sleep. When you’re going to bed at night, you watch late night to see a couple celebrity interviews, a musical guest, and some perspective on the day’s events, all glued together with tested bits and jokes to make a seamless-feeling show. I’d love to make something like that. I’d be over the moon to go to work every day to host a late-night talk show. Honestly, I think the show I hosted might be great, but it’d get pretty weird, and probably halfway through the third episode someone would get stuck in a human cannon for a week, and then I’d get canceled. But it’d definitely be worth it.”

Phoebe Robinson (@PRobinsonComedy)
“Whenever I hear that question, I hear someone going, ‘Hey, so, would you ever like to have a job?’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, female comedians want jobs, too!’ Of course you would want to host your own late-night show. Stephen Colbert is all over Manhattan. He’s a beautiful man, he’s a talented man. His face is everywhere. I want my face everywhere. I want someone to draw a phallus on my face. We all strive for that.

For mine, I’m just not a games person. I don’t mind playing Twister, like, at my apartment with friends, but I really like watching old late-night interviews, and the ones I watch are Carson or Letterman and someone talking. Just those moments where they’re talking and they’re having these really interesting conversations — you don’t know where it’s going to go, but that kind of stuff always sticks with me. So I would be like a really dope-ass Charlie Rose. It’d be cool, but I can’t sing, I can’t dance, so my talent is just being able to talk to someone until they tell me to stop talking to them.”

Iliza Shlesinger (@iliza)
“My only goal in Hollywood is to have a late-night show, and I won’t stop until this dream is a reality. Besides, I look better at night anyway. The landscape of late night is missing a smart — smart being key — woman who is funny and accessible to men and women. I’m sure if Ellen wanted to, she could crush late-night TV. It’s insane that women aren’t part of the late-night conversation.”

Sara Schaefer (@saraschaefer1)
“The answer is yes, and I even managed to make it happen one time! I had a weekly late-night show on MTV for two seasons in 2013, with my co-host and friend Nikki Glaser, called Nikki & Sara Live. But I kind of still can’t believe it happened! On September 27, 2004, it was announced that Conan would be taking over for Leno. At the time, I was hosting a biweekly fake late-night talk show in New York City called Sara Schaefer Is Obsessed With You. During the day I was working at a day job that I hated. That morning I read the article online, and I stood up dramatically and announced to my cubicle mates: ‘Hear me now: I will take over for Conan!’ I sat down triumphantly. I had four years to figure it out. How hard could it be? At this point I had never been on TV, never worked a job in the industry, and I had only been doing comedy for three years. I barely knew how to do a joke. I laugh now thinking about it. Of course it didn’t take long for me to realize that NBC had probably already picked Conan’s successor, someone far more famous than I would ever be. Years later, however, I was beyond thrilled to get hired to run the social media platform for this far-more-famous successor, Jimmy Fallon. Okay, so I wasn’t the host, but I worked there! The Secret works! By this time I had gotten wise to the incredibly steep climb of show business, and had pretty much accepted the fact that I was galaxies away from ever hosting my own show. This job would do just fine.

Also, at that time in my life, I felt like I couldn’t get many people in the industry to take me seriously as a comedian. But an ember of my dream to host a show still smoldered. So I started working on an idea for one. Again, mind you, I still had never really been on TV doing comedy. I quit Late Night for my first TV-writing job, writing questions for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire — you know, the place where all late-night hosts get their start! I was just trying to keep inching forward. Despite the odds that I knew were against me, I started working on a talk-show idea. When I went over it with my managers, one of them said, ‘This sounds great, but every network is going to ask you, “Why you?’” In that moment, I blankly looked him in the eye, my heart racing, and declared, almost hissing, ‘Because it is what I was born to do.’ Then I laughed and realized how ridiculous that sounded. Because seriously, he was right. Why me? Oftentimes I think this business requires a paradoxical mix of wild delusion and deep self-loathing.

Soon after that, Nikki joined me in creating the idea, and we were both established just enough to get a couple of pitch meetings. I think we all kind of thought that this would be ‘practice.’ A way to get our feet wet pitching a show and meeting network executives. But much to our delight, MTV took the bait! They liked our ideas and our chemistry, and even if we hadn’t followed the traditional path to TV fame, they could see we had worked hard and that we were ready. I couldn’t believe it was real. But it was, and we did it, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished. It was a funny show, and I will never forget the people who gave us the chance.

Now that our MTV show is over, Nikki has a new talk show coming out on Comedy Central, and I am waiting to hear the fate of a pilot I created for IFC. It’s a news-satire show, and I really hope it goes forward. Because I can tell you, it, too, is what I was born to do.”

Carol Burnett
“No. I’m not good at interviewing people. I’m not good at that. Conversations I’m pretty good with and everything, but it’s big, and five nights a week.”

Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin)
“Yes, thank you for asking. I had a prime-time talk show for two seasons on Bravo called Kathy. I am very proud of that show. The format was highly improvisational. I had three celebrity guests on the couch at the same time, as opposed to a typical talk-show format with a desk and one guest at a time. I found that when you sit Josh Groban, Kristin Chenoweth, and Eva Longoria down together and let me moderate, all hell breaks loose in a way that I enjoy very much! I am a true believer in the art of conversation. It is timeless! Viola Davis just said, ‘You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.’ Philosophically, this applies to the lack of women in network nightly late-night talk as well. Meaning, if you want to put an established female comedic voice in late night, you simply cannot do it without the mountains and years of support and infrastructure that all the guys have.

For example, I wish a network executive would simply say, ‘It’s time for Kathy Griffin to have a late-night talk show. Now go find a bunch of people and hope for the best.’ In the late-night world, and you can confirm this by looking at the end credits of any show: There is a team of men putting together every essential piece of support that is needed for the host to succeed. Yes, there are a handful of women in these roles. In my experience, and I have had three television [shows] with my name in the title, I have never had the luxury of turning to the old boys club (because there isn’t an “old girls club” yet) to have a chance to launch a show in the way I have learned is necessary to have a shot. Okay, this is not necessarily the funniest answer you may have been looking for from a comedienne that is playing Carnegie Hall November 12, but right after this quote I am going to go back to making fun of Eric Trump, because making fun of his father Donald Trump is just too easy.”

Sandra Bernhard (@SandraBernhard)
“If I could bring a sense of spontaneity to it, yes. If I could have guests on who were eclectic and not necessarily promoting something and we could banter, how fun would that be? I think people want to talk and sing, tell offbeat stories, and hang out. I just don’t like the hype around talk shows. Why not just let it unfold in a natural way with energy and intimacy?”

Noël Wells (@RealTomHankz)
“The goal should be less about a numerical representation of women on staffs, and more about encouraging women to break the mold and go after whatever they’re interested in, intellectually and comedically. Being a late-night host isn’t something I think anyone, male or female, aims for; it’s the sort of thing that happens organically for some as their career takes a certain trajectory and the opportunity arises. And on the writing side, I’m not personally interested in a 9-to-5 where I have to churn out canned monologue jokes about how hot or cold it is that day. I’d rather have my own television show, take a luxurious bath, and aim at being the next Nora Ephron. That said, if that didn’t work out, I’d love to have my own Bill Maher–esque roundtable show, and I know deep down if I continue working hard, I can totally make that happen.”

Jen Kirkman (@JenKirkman)
“Hosting a late-night show was never something I went hard for, it wasn’t my single focused dream. However, it’s something I’ve fantasized about on and off, due to my need as a comedian to express my opinion and being inspired by the way Joan Rivers delivered the monologues on the old Tonight Show — not in front of a curtain adjusting her tie but to the live audience, like a real stand-up comic. I actually currently have interest from a network for a kind of talk show that takes place after the sun goes down. I’ve had meetings in the past where I’ve actively pitched late-night show ideas — I’ve been met with odd questions, some from network execs who are women, asking me, ‘How can you prove your show won’t have an overly female-centric point of view?’ At that point, I usually try to prove to them how if they watch me bash my head into a wall, I can make a cool hole in the plaster.

I’m a touring comedian and author (New York Times best seller, thank you), and love doing that because it means being my own boss and traveling the world. Hosting TV shows is work. Work that keeps you in one city most of the year and involves input from lots and lots of other people. But the money and exposure are great. If I could make millions doing 30 tour dates a year (no, 20 … no, make that ten) — worldwide — I would. But we can’t always get what we want, we get what we need. And we do need to have talk shows. Women are good at talking. And listening. Come on — one of the only jobs women were allowed to have back in the day was secretary. We rule at sitting behind desks.

Kristen Acimovic (@Yackimovic)
“It’s not my only career goal, but if the stars aligned that way, I would do it in a heartbeat. It would be a late-night cocktail with your favorite aunt. Equal parts comforting and experimental. Chatty. Interesting and curious about the world. And a couple times a year I would do that Oprah thing and give stuff away.”

Michaela Watkins (@michaelaWat)
Yes. It would be somewhere between Daily Show and Between Two Ferns. I would try to get my celeb guests to talk about their feelings on politics, religion, and any hot-button issue, and if I smelled bullshit, very silly things would happen to them, like on a Nickelodeon show. Bucket of green slop dumped on them, etc. The 50-person audience would be a person from each state. Side note: I would love any show that involved psychics and mediums, but that’s just ‘cause — ghosts!”

Amy Hoggart (@amy_hoggart)
“Yes, having my own late-night show would be ideal! I love working comedy to bits (plus pieces), but the irregular schedule can be really stressful. Apart from the experience of having my own show, I’d just be so thrilled to have a concrete reason to get up out of bed and then the door every day, wearing shoes and bottoms like a normal person. There seem to be loads of perks of late-night shows that others don’t have. You get to meet and chat to loads of new people, the audience and all the millions of celebrity guests. If they were especially famous, you could seriously impress everyone by asking for their autograph and taking selfies with them on air. Then there’s the desk thing: Late-night hosts always get their own desks. I’d love my own mini study on set. I collect stationary and have always fancied one of those ergonomic filing cabinets and a reusable chair.

I’m quite an early bird, so really, the show would be my version of ‘late night,’ which often starts around 7.30. I know I’m not alone in struggling to sleep sometimes, and I’m pretty sure a huge percentage of the viewing demographic for these shows must be insomniacs, so the show would basically be one long wind-down before bed. It would kick off with me and the first guest having a non-sexy bath together while wearing face masks and talking candles. Then there’d be a game-show competition to see who could pile on the most cozy clothes. I’d win this one every single night, as I’m little, so I can slip into kids leggings, extra-small long johns, small light pj’s, medium flannel pj’s, large man sweatpants, an extra-large robe, and, finally, a coat. This would go on while the audience cheers and claps and sings along loudly to ‘Goodnight My Angel’ by Billy Joel. Then there’d be milk and cookies, teeth brushed all around, and we’d finish up with either an actually sexy section (if me and one of the guests hit it off) or, much more likely, the two of us lying next to each other reading separate books for a good hour. Probably while two of the audience or production team have way more fun, raunchily and loudly, in the next room. Then eye mask on, covers up, retainers in, and lights out at 9:30/10 p.m.”

Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa)
“Of course! Assuming it comes with a steady, fat paycheck that will soothe the sting of the inevitable-for-lady-celebrities complaints about my physical appearance, romantic choices, sexual history, and comedic ability, sure! I’d love to have my own late-night talk show. Bring it the fuck on. My show would be called ‘Sara Hangs Out,’ and it would be just 22 minutes of me sitting in a hot tub with a tit out, erasing years of feminist progress with my insatiable need to show off my amazing size 12 body. Not both tits, because that’s for my future husband. Just one. I would generally only interview women and genderqueer people, and occasionally, men I deemed worthy. Mostly I’d just ask Amy Sedaris to eat hush puppies with me and drink scuppernong wine. Incidentally, the show would be shot in Asheville, North Carolina, and the hot tub would be inflatable. Occasionally, someone would give birth in it. I would administer the epidural while drunk.”

Miranda Hart (@mermhart)
“There are so many things in comedy and acting I want to do. Though having a late-night show isn’t necessarily a grand ambition or anything, but if the opportunity came along, then yeah, sure, I would be game. I have done a couple of shows on the BBC as host, and some have included interviews. I always try and subvert a genre in some way, make it unique to me, so I would find a way to do a show like that a little differently whilst maintaining its heritage. I am not giving away my ideas or secrets here, though! But I think a woman brings a slightly gentler approach to the interviews — they become more chatty, more like old friends catching up rather than guests trying to show off with their best anecdotes. So I think I would sit people down with a nice cup of tea and cozy up on a sofa together and get them to tell me everything! It would be funny and there would be a riotous side, but we’d also see people in a more open, honest, and natural way.”

Bridget Everett (@bridgeteverett)
“I’m not gunning to run a late-night show. Topical monologues aren’t my thing. But if I did do something, it would be a part Playboy After Dark, part Falcon Crest, and part Sally Jessy Raphael. It’s very clear in my brain how that could work.”

Alison Rosen (@AlisonRosen)
“I would love to host a late-night show. It would be personality-driven (probably mine, but don’t hold me to that) and similar to my podcast, ‘Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend,’ which I sometimes describe as a kids show for adults. By that I just mean there would be silly, absurd, warm, fuzzy elements surrounding a core of super-watchable, revealing interviews. And buckets. Buckets is a real TV-industry term. I don’t know what it means but I’m definitely going to fill some buckets. So basically it would be silliness, interviews, and buckets. And ducklings in studio, which we’d occasionally cut to on the duckling cam. Silliness, interviews, buckets, and ducklings. Unless you are in a position to give me a show and you hate everything I just described, in which case my show would be whatever you want it to be. And buckets.”

Additional reporting by Audrey J. Bruno, Renata Sellitti, MariaElena Fernandez, and Soo Youn.

37 Female Comedians Dish About Late-Night Dreams