Early Thursday afternoon, David Letterman took to Twitter to announce his retirement from the Late Show in 2015. While the host will be missed, his pending resignation opens up an opportunity to diversify late night show programming. To date, no women or people of color have hosted a late night talk show on the three traditional broadcast networks, but there are numerous candidates who are more than capable of filling Letterman’s shoes.
Here’s a list of people we’d love to see in the host’s chair next year (in no particular order):
1. Keegan Michael-Key and/or Jordan Peele
The dynamic duo has shown off its comedic chops, time and time again, on the sketch comedy series Key and Peele. From the auction block skit, in which they satirize the slave trade, to the recurring segment about Obama’s alter ego, Luther, Key and Peele would spice up the oft-dry opening monologues we’ve come to expect on Late Night.
2. Tina Fey
There’s not much to say about Tina Fey that people don’t already know. As a former writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, and the mastermind behind the cult classic, 30 Rock, Tina Fey has the celebrity connections and following to attract viewers from every demographic.
3. Amy Poehler
This is another obvious choice, but Amy Poehler proves time and time again that she is a comedic force to be reckoned with. Not only does she hold her own on Parks and Recreation, but she’s also a fierce advocate for numerous social justice issues; in the past, she’s joined an anti-lgbt bullying project as well as a campaign fighting rape culture. As host of the Late Show, she’d do a great job fusing comedy and more serious material.
4. Mindy Kaling
As the writer, producer, and star of the Mindy Project, as well as a former cast member of the Office, Kaling has made a name for herself as one of the funniest women on television. Having moved from a supporting actress to her current leading role, the next logical step would be for Kaling to have a talk show of her own.
5. Will Smith
He’s mostly known for acting in blockbuster hits like Independence Day, and the Men in Black franchise, but Will Smith was once known for he comedic wit on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Although he may have outgrown his multicolored outfits, Smith has established a repertoire with the Hollywood greats necessary to draw attention to late night programming. He also has extensive knowledge of the entertainment industry, which would give him credibility as a commentator on pop culture. Fans, young and old, would definitely stay awake to watch his antics.
6. Margaret Cho
This comedian is wonderful at incorporating discussions of race, sex, and politics in her famous stand-up comedy, which would be a great change from the generic, un-nuanced jokes spewed on evening talk shows. Without question, Cho would change up the vanilla formula we’ve come to expect, and bring more relatable humor into the fold.
7. Aziz Ansari
From cotton sheets to his experience at an R. Kelly concert, Aziz Ansari has a knack for spinning random occurrences into side-splitting jokes — the perfect skill to appeal to viewers of all ages.
8. Hannibal Buress
Between his understated stand-up specials, including Animal Furness and My Name is Hannibal, and his recurring role as Lincoln on Broad City, Buress is a rising comedy sensation. His dry humor would rattle guests on the show, and his experience as a writer for 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live proves he has a creative edge to bring to the table.
9. Amy Schumer
This woman has no problems with being candid in her stand-up shows, as evidenced by lengthy monologues about her sex life. Although her humor may be too vulgar for most viewers, she’d add some much-needed edginess to CBS.
10. W. Kamau Bell
The world was extremely sad when W. Kamau Bell’s show, Totally Biased, was cancelled last November. Another comedian who isn’t afraid to push the envelope, Bell has familiarity with interviewing entertainers and discussing real-world issues like race and religion. We’d love for him to get a second shot at a hosting gig.
Retta, aka Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation, would be a less-obvious but equally charismatic host as Amy Poehler or Aziz. In addition to playing one of the funniest characters on television, Retta has a robust Twitter following due to her funny quips, live tweets, and creative hashtags. If given the chance, we’re confident that Retta would have her audience in stitches.
12. Dave Chappelle
Who doesn’t want to see Chappelle return to the stage?
It remains to be seen who will replace Letterman, and we’re expecting to hear a lot of speculation leading up to the veteran’s departure, but we hope the Late Show will capitalize on the diverse body of entertainers in Hollywood. Jimmy Fallon is a breath of fresh air, but we’d like to see something different in the evening talk show lineup.