Ronny Chieng Says Late-Night Needs A Leno/Conan Style Beef

‘This is how we save our networks. We got to talk shit’
Ronny Chieng Says Late-Night Needs A Leno/Conan Style Beef

Ronny Chieng wanted to mix it up with late-night competition Seth Meyers last night and we’re here for it. After some opening niceties, Chieng decided to rub the host’s nose in The Daily Show’s Emmy victory over Late Night with Seth Meyers. “You know, I grew up in Malaysia, and I’m such a fan of American institutions, just like yourself. And who knew?” Chieng asked Meyers. “Who knew that one day, I could come to America, come to New York City, do comedy, join The Daily Show, be in the same Emmy category as you, and defeat you!” 

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“We’re the best show!” Chieng crowed, holding up a picture of Trevor Noah and crew taking home the trophy. "This show. That proves it. We won. We’re the champions. Love it or hate it, we won. We’re the better show. We’re objectively the better late-night show!” When some audience members hissed back, Chieng egged them on: “Boo! Boo all you want.”

Meyers, a notorious nice guy, tried to give Chieng and The Daily Show their flowers and move on, but his guest wasn’t done with the hate. “No, we got to keep this going,” Chieng protested. “We got to start beef between the shows. Come on. Say some shit!” (I’m assuming “shit” was the operative swear here — NBC censors bleeped it like the chickenshits they are.)

Meyers ultimately surrendered — he doesn’t want beef — but Chieng still had more fight left in him: “This is how we save our networks. We got to talk shit (bleeped but you know) about each other’s show. I’m trying to start a late-night war.” Chieng argued that one reason he moved to America was for the late-night angst he grew up with. “We have a strong history of late-night-talk-show drama in this country,” he said, “all the way from Carson to Letterman to Conan and Leno.”

Hey, Chieng has a point. Late night is more interesting when its hosts are throwing grenades at each other behind the scenes. Johnny Carson’s feud with Joan Rivers was downright nasty. Leno and Letterman’s battle royale was so entertaining that they made a whole movie out of it. And Leno became a national villain after giving up his throne to Conan, then snatching it back in the dead of night. 

These days, all the late-night pals team up for projects like the Strike Force Five podcast, a genial camaraderie that, while mentally healthy, leads to late-night sameness that’s downright boring. Chieng is right to want to throw cherry bombs in the other shows’ mailboxes. But his actual attempts at malice don’t exactly have sharp edges. “I’ll start the beef, okay? I’m going to say some shit about this. Late Night with Seth Meyers — this show is on too late,” Chieng joked. “Okay? If you’re watching this live, go to bed!”

Well, it’s a start. Kimmel, Colbert and Oliver — we’re looking to you to crank this up another notch. You know you guys are dying to talk (bleep) about Jimmy Fallon.


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