Greg Gutfeld Vows to Upend ‘Same’ Late-Night Category

Greg Gutfeld on Fox News
(Image credit: Fox News)

Gutfeld!, a late-night show hosted by Greg Gutfeld, premieres on Fox News Channel 11 p.m. ET April 5. The nightly show promises to shake up late-night television, which Gutfeld called “bland as string cheese and not nearly as appetizing.” It looks at the news of the day through a satirical lens and offers bits of pop culture. 

Joining Gutfeld on Gutfeld! are FNC contributor Tom Shillue and comedians Joe DeVito and Joe Machi, among others. Fox News has supported the launch with a billboard on Hollywood Boulevard, near the Walk of Fame. 

Gutfeld, who was editor-in-chief at Men’s Health, Maxim and Stuff before he came onboard at Fox in 2007, is a co-host on The Five. He hosted weekly The Greg Gutfeld Show until mid March. He spoke with Michael Malone of B+C/Multichannel News about the new program. An edited transcript follows. 

I know you’re working hard to make the show different from other late-night shows. Tell me about the format. 

It’s not that hard to make it different, because all of those shows are the same. They’ve kind of left open a path for me, where I can go off on different targets and do different stories they might not cover. We are news based. I really don’t want to get lost in a Q&A with an actress talking about her latest project--that’s not gonna happen. It’s going to be structurally similar to The GG Show. Monologue, roundtable...there’s gonna be more surprises. 

The great thing about upping the frequency, it naturally alters the chemistry and it alters the number of risks you can take. Some risks fall flat on their face but you forget about it the next day. You go up to bat and try to forget you missed a pitch.

How much of a chore is it to shift to five nights a week of programming? 

I don’t think it’s, like, five times doing the Saturday show. We would have meetings every day and we would go over stories. Some stories we’d never use. The Saturday show only has five segments and basically you could only do five stories. Now you’ve got 25 [a week]. We talked a lot about stories every day, so that part is OK. 

The writing of it, definitely that’s where it gets... We had to expand the staff--we hired some really solid writers. I will be writing a monologue for the show. I did a monologue for The Five every day. I can’t do two a day. People will have to come to the Gutfeld! show to hear my monologues. 

What will viewers get from the show that don’t get anywhere else?

They’ll get original ideas, original perspectives. They’re gonna laugh, they’re gonna have a good time, but it’s not going to be at the expense of the viewer. 

That’s really important. I’ve noticed a trend in mainstream media, Fox News excepted, where almost all targets have moved from the individual to the group. It started years ago, lampooning the religious, to Republicans, to conservatives, then Trump supporters, then pro-lifers, then the NRA, i.e. gun owners. Here are the acceptable targets for your late-night shows. They’re just groups of people. 

I’ve been incredibly careful--I never begin a sentence with “Those Biden voters.” I’ll make fun of Joe Biden but I don’t go, “Those damn Biden voters.” I don’t even like it when I say Democrats. Putting people in groups, you lose something. I hate the team-sports stuff. That’s my goal--if we’re gonna make fun of something, it’s gonna be a practice, it’s gonna be an individual in power. I’m not gonna go, “Oh, these stupid Biden voters.” 

I think people are tired of being thrown into a group that is ripe for ridicule because they’re just not as cool as everyone else. I think the Democrats are realizing this in some way, that you can’t just keep calling half of America deplorable. 

What kind of guests can we expect?

I have at least ten opportunities a week for guests. It means taking risks with people who might not fit the traditional mold. One of my co-hosts [Tyrus] is a former professional wrestler. He happens to have very strong opinions and he can articulate them amazingly. I have people like Walter Kirn, who wrote Up in the Air. He’s just fun to listen to. I have people from the podcast world. 

I want brains who can explain things. Going back to the line about the actress, who benefits from a six-minute interview about that? Not really anybody, except the person being interviewed. 

Who will we see on the premiere episode?

I have a few people I’m looking at--I have some familiar faces and some new faces. But if you’re looking for a marquee name, the only marquee name is me. I’m joking. Don’t expect a one-on-one with Angelina Jolie. It’s gonna be a lot of fun, interesting people. It will unfold and grow over a period of months and a year and it will be an entirely new beast. 

What are your influences?

The same influences that I’ve had in the past. I love surprise--that was always the early Letterman stuff. Chris Elliott is probably my favorite TV performer. I adored that show and the stuff he did was always amazing. The ability to surprise people is important. 

In terms of identifying with the audience, Tucker [Carlson]. I don’t think there’s anybody who is speaking more directly to the audience than him. Analyzing how he does it, to me, is always fascinating. It’s the right man for the right time. He’s got an interesting gift. I like to think of myself on The Five, trying to speak directly to the audience. That’s important. 

I grew up on Mad Magazine, National Lampoon, talk shows like The Tonight Show and Letterman. I was always doing something outside the mainstream category of magazines. I did weird things to Men’s Health and I did weird things to Stuff and Maxim. A lot of it has to do with pacing--disrupting the conventional pacing is always kind of fun, making it a little faster or making it really slow. Upending certain conventions.  

Back in your magazine days, did you ever think you’d end up hosting a TV show?

When you’re really young, like 7 to 10, you know what you’re going to be. I was always putting on weird shows. In second grade I did a puppet show based on Watergate. Nobody in the room understood it. I lifted the whole idea from Mad Magazine. I just remember it being absolutely deathly silent. For a talent show, I made up a game show, Up Your Income. I wore my mom’s wig and played the host. 

There were obviously class clown hints, that I like to hold court. But first and foremost, I always thought of myself as a writer. That put me into the least funny thing in the world, which is Prevention Magazine. I became the fitness editor. 

I became a really good writer, but it turned out I was really good at packaging things. That got me into being the creative director at Men’s Health and editor at other magazines.

Sitting in magazine meetings is almost like doing a talk show. You sit there going over issues, like, what are we gonna do, what are we gonna cover? You kick around stories. I found myself in these things always either persuading or hypothesizing a story--what about this? What about this? That’s what I ended up doing for a living. I basically adapted the idea of class clown into several different careers. 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.