After Midnight Tinkers With Format, Adds Monologue

Four months after premiering, Taylor Tomlinson’s After Midnight is making some changes that bring it a little bit closer to the traditional late-night talk shows.

While episodes of the comedy panel show have historically started with the host standing behind her podium and introducing the night’s panelists, last night’s show opened with Tomlinson performing a 7-minute trending-topic monologue, complete with some comedy club-style crowd work.

“Everyone wants to cut down on their screen time, so we’re here to help. We have rounded up the biggest stories from the internet,” Tomlinson explained as she kicked off a roundup of social media videos, “so you can chat with your barista tomorrow and be informed.”

Tomlinson riffed on Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s discriminatory college commencement speech, a viral video of kids excited to visit Four Seasons Orlando, and JoJo Siwa getting drunk at Disney World. Unlike other monologues, Tomlinson’s set featured heavy crowd work — bantering with audience members about one’s graduation being headlined by Bill Clinton, and another’s experience getting stood up at the New Year’s Eve ball drop.

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After Midnight replaced CBS’s The Late Late Show franchise, which had been on the air since 1995. Even with the addition of a monologue, the show’s panel-based ersatz game show format is unlike anything else in late night— but the question of how much it should eschew the old-school talk show structure has been bandied about.

Following the show’s announcement and Tomlinson’s press run earlier this year, some expected After Midnight to be a show built around the host’s persona, featuring the typical desk and celebrity guests—but that was never part of the plan for the show, which is based on Comedy Central’s 2013-2017 program @midnight.

Tomlinson herself called out the confusion in her first month on the air, responding to a TikTok in which one of her fans claimed the comedian was tricked into hosting a game show. “I promise I have not been tricked. I signed up for this on purpose,” Tomlinson said. “I didn’t want to do a talk show. You think I want to ask Daniel Day-Lewis about preparing for his role as an 1800s Polish butcher? No, I want to make him do ‘#FartSongs’.”

Tomlinson shared a similar sentiment recently on the podcast Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang, making clear that the show was not built around her. “They hired [head writer] Jo Firestone before they hired me. I think they screen-tested a few people…” she explained. “It’s not my show — in a good way. I love that about it. I am an employee, I’m part of a team, and it’s why I wanted to do it, because standup is such a solo sport.”

“I was very uncomfortable doing press, because I was having a hard time going like, ‘Yep, this is the Taylor Tomlinson hour,’” she continued. “It’s really not at all. I have a very specific job, which is [to] make three other people look good every night. If I’m funny, it’s like a bonus.”

But even if After Midnight wasn’t built around Tomlinson, it’s only natural that the show grow around its host as it continues to develop. And after all, Tomlinson is a seasoned standup who tours extensively and has three Netflix specials under her belt—so giving her time for a monologue and a chance to banter with audience members naturally plays to her strengths.

Since its premiere, the show has also introduced a tongue-in-cheek “Talk Show Portion,” in which the show’s contestants take a break from the pseudo-competition to field direct conversation questions from Tomlinson. The segment begins with Tomlinson adorning her podium with a miniature version of old late-night’s most ubiquitous symbol: a couch.


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  1. David Schiavi says:

    I Like the opening with a monologue, that is her talent she is known for and is great at
    … it fits the show and timeslot just right also.

  2. Chris says:

    Love the opening monologue – more Taylor can’t be a bad thing.

  3. John says:

    I watched the first couple episodes and I had the opinion that they needed to give her some time to be funny. she’s very funny on her stand up and YouTube shorts. I thought it was strange to hamstring her by only letting other people be funny on her show. glad to see she’s being given the chance.

  4. Betsy Moore says:

    loved the new opening!!

  5. Sarah Rienzi says:

    Watched Taylor’s opening 5/21, thought it was fresh and funny.

  6. D Brown says:

    it’s really good

  7. Betty L Lieber says:

    I love some of the changes, but I liked it better when the audience chose the written answer, not the person for the winner. But, that was Monday night. Tuesday night, I liked it even better when the winner won the show by points!!
    I love Taylor’s monologue❤️❤️

  8. Jack Daniel says:

    I watched last night’s show. Tomlinson’s monologue made it a much better show.

  9. Gregory Moore says:

    We are glad to see possibly changing the show to have a little stand up to begin the show. Taylor is a professional stand up comedian..!
    My wife and I love this show so much and hope it on tv for years to come. We are both in our late sixties.
    Taylor Tomlinson is such a great comedian and a very nice person to boot..!!

  10. Harrison B says:

    I feel sure that TT is most excited about settling down with a good woman and getting pregnant.

    1. Christine Billings says:

      Man…what’s wrong with you? What a crude comment from someone who obviously is unable to recognize quality talent.
      Here’s a thought: keep yours to yourself!

  11. Paul Martine says:

    Love this show, so fresh and so different from other late night shows. Taylor is awesome and the variety of comics is great to see. Keep up the great work !

  12. thisGUY says:

    Adding monologue definitely helps current show further differentiate from Chris Hardwick AND @Midnight.
    However, each episode still needs to end with FTW.