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‘Gutfeld!’ Makes Mark in Late Night

Greg Gutfeld, host of Gutfeld! on Fox News
(Image credit: Fox News)

Gutfeld!, the newish late-night show on Fox News Channel, has emerged as a late-night player 15 months after it launched. In June, Gutfeld! averaged 1,956,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, ahead of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! (1,690,000) and NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (1,327,000), and trailing CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (2,187,000). 

Hosted by Greg Gutfeld, Gutfeld! is on at 11 p.m. ET, when more viewers are awake, while the competition starts at 11:30. And Gutfeld! trails the other three in the 25-54 demo.

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But the total viewers numbers get one’s attention. Gutfeld, who hosted weekly program The Greg Gutfeld Show prior to launching Gutfeld! in April 2021, said having the previous show gave Gutfeld! a giant advantage at launch. “We already had a running start,” he told B+C/Multichannel News. “We knew what we were doing.”

Late-night was ready for a shakeup, he believes. “There was space there,” he said. “Everybody else is so predictable and so unfunny, so an unpredictable and funny show would work.”

Gutfeld spoke with B+C back when the show launched, saying late night was “bland as string cheese and not nearly as appetizing.”

For his part, Gutfeld is not surprised to see his show win over substantial viewership in late night. “We knew it was going to be a hit,” he said.

Cocktail Party Vibe

He likens the Gutfeld! setup to “a little cocktail party” — smart, likeable people with him on the set, having some fun and letting a few zingers fly. “The chemistry on Gutfeld! is just pure,” he said. “Everybody there can talk to everybody else. There’s a genuine affinity for each other.”

Sharing the set with Gutfeld are Kat Timpf, Tyrus, Tom Shillue, Joe DeVito and Joe Machi, among others. Tom O’Connor is the executive producer. 

The zingers are a natural byproduct of people who genuinely get along, he noted. “The best part of the show is the constant roasting and insulting,” Gutfeld said. “It flows naturally. When someone gets a good burn on me, I love it, and the audience loves it.”

Not many shows, he added, see the host as the frequent target of roasts. Gutfeld, also co-host on The Five, added, “I don’t have anyone on the show I don’t like.”

Going from weekly to nightly helped the chemistry. Gutfeld said the show’s vibe “changes through frequency. If you see somebody once a week, it’s pretty good. But you see them once a night, and certain avenues open up, in terms of riffs and asides.”

He likened the nightly show to having “more chips at the casino,” and a greater willingness to try new and perhaps risky things. “You can make more mistakes,” he said. “When you’re on five days a week, you have more chances to gamble.”

In June, Jimmy Kimmel Live! won the 25-54 demo among late-night shows, averaging 526,000 viewers, per Nielsen. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had 373,000, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon had 337,000, and Gutfeld! was at 328,000.

Letterman Legacy

Gutfeld considers Johnny Carson and early David Letterman influences, along with the scripted late-night spoof Fernwood Tonight. Fernwood Tonight, from Norman Lear, lasted one season back in 1977, and had Martin Mull and Fred Willard in the cast. Letterman, he said, loved to “mess with the structure of the show.”

In terms of more current late night, Gutfeld singles out Bill Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. He calls Maher’s monologue “well-written and sharp.”

What’s next for Gutfeld!? Fox News built a new studio that opened for business in early May. The host said the show will “definitely” go on the road again. Gutfeld would like to get bands on the program but said his “unorthodox” musical taste, ranging from speed metal to electronica, may not mesh with viewers’ tastes. “Maybe a band once a week,” Gutfeld said. 

Bands may up the excitement on Gutfeld! a bit, but Gutfeld said the show hardly needs it. “One thing you can’t say is we are boring,” he said. “It’s the least boring hour of television you’ll ever find.” ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.