4 Talk Show Hosts Who Made Even Chevy Chase Look Like He Knew What He Was Doing

Pat Sajak’s first guest was Chevy, so he was pretty much asking for it
4 Talk Show Hosts Who Made Even Chevy Chase Look Like He Knew What He Was Doing

Chevy Chase didn’t exactly hit it out of the park when he tried his hand at a late-night talk show in the 1990s. In the opinion of The New York Times, “On a disaster scale of 1 to 10, this one rated a 12.” But even destroying the disaster scale doesn’t necessarily make Chase the worst host of all time. Here are four other candidates that made him look positively Carson-esque… 

Magic Johnson

The Los Angeles Lakers legend had a killer smile, making him one of the NBA’s most ingratiating interviews. But charming reporters during a postgame press conference and entertaining America turned out to be two different things. “The freewheeling spontaneity and confidence he exhibited on the hardwood gives way in The Magic Hour to stiff calculation and inflexibility masquerading as improv,” read Variety’s review.

Magic’s comedian sidekick, Craig Shoemaker, only lasted three days before he was thrown overboard. Apparently, Magic didn’t like it when his costar told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the show was “an absolute nightmare.” A disastrous appearance by Howard Stern, in which the shock jock claimed to be blacker than Johnson and said, “At least you had fun getting AIDS,” was the final nail in the coffin.

Pat Sajak

Sajak is great at asking contestants if they want to buy a vowel. But that skill alone didn’t translate to late-night success for the Wheel of Fortune host. The guy seemed to want to fail, inviting future terrible late-night host Chase to be his first guest. “Physically, Mr. Sajak is almost eerily ordinary,” said The New York Times. “His haircut suggests Yale 1958. From certain angles, he resembles Frank Gorshin doing an impersonation of Dan Quayle.”

Somehow, curiosity propelled Sajak’s blandfest to #1 in the ratings during its first week. After the audience saw what it was in for, however, the show soon plummeted to last. Johnny Carson was doubling Sajak’s audience, and Arsenio Hall was getting all the young hip viewers, leaving Sajak with, well, not much of anyone. The reruns of old TV movies that CBS had previously been running performed better. CBS began auditioning new hosts… er, bringing in guest hosts on Friday nights before dumping Sajak after 15 months. 


Can you really call it Alf’s Hit Talk Show if it only lasts seven episodes? The rug/alien hybrid wasn’t all that funny in his original sitcom incarnation and the abrasive personality came off worse on his TV Land talker. Even the show’s creator thought Alf’s Hit Talk Show was doing it wrong, wanting to interview the old-school stars seen on TV Land while the network wanted contemporary celebs. “We tried to explain to them that it’s TV Land, and it’s going to be very hard,” Alf’s Paul Fusco told the Hollywood Reporter. “You’re not going to get Brad Pitt.” 

Instead, they got Tom Arnold.

Alan Thicke

Thicke of the Night, starring Canadian heartthrob (and pre-sitcom dad) Alan Thicke, was supposed to be a younger, hipper version of The Tonight Show. Hey kids, it’s Fee Waybill from the Tubes!

Instead, it was a mishmash misadventure. Writer Arnie Kogan says the plan was to have 50 shows worth of material ready before the show debuted. “When the first show aired,” he said, “we barely had one show ready. There were a lot of changes. It was an interesting experience but a rough one.” Thicke himself took it on the chin as he “challenges the viewer to figure out just what it is he does well,” wrote The Washington Post. “Thicke is worse than boring,” said PEOPLE. “He is aggressively boring.”


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