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Series / The Late Late Show

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A late-night television show on CBS, directly following The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Previous hosts include Tom Snyder (1995-98), Craig Kilborn (1999-2004), and Craig Ferguson (2005-14).

The current host for the program is English actor-comedian James Corden (who you might remember from Gavin & Stacey, The Wrong Mans, and two episodes of Doctor Who). He is accompanied by musician Reggie Watts and a respective band. From time to time, Corden's family also drops in on the show for some added hijinks. The show airs new episodes regularly during the first four nights of the week, then takes a break on the last night with a rerun. Corden will be stepping down as host in 2023.

A Spin-Off of Corden's version, Carpool Karaoke: The Series, began airing on Apple Music in 2017, later migrating to Apple TV+ beginning with its fifth season.

Not to be confused with the second longest-running chat show of all time (after The Tonight Show), which is made and broadcast in Ireland on RTÉ.

Specific series who have their respective pages:


Tropes associated with The Late Late Show include:

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    Tom Snyder's run 
  • Broadcast Live: In Eastern and Central time zones; also simulcast on CBS radio so listeners could call in.
  • Catchphrase: " fire up the colortinis and watch the pictures as they fly through the air." When the show was simulcast on CBS Radio, "colortinis" was replaced by "simultinis".
  • Guest Host: On occasions when Snyder was ill, Jon Stewart and Martin Mull filled in.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: A saxophone piece by David Sanborn really captures the feel of a city at night.
  • Motor Mouth: Snyder had mellowed a bit from his Tomorrow days but still tended to be extremely chatty.
  • Rearrange the Song: While the basic tune remained the same, the show used three different versions of the theme tune in the first year:
    • When the show started, a slower saxophone piece was used.
    • By March 1995, this gave way to a faster tune that finally was replaced by the theme that was used for the rest of the run by December of that year.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Snyder's old Tomorrow Show on NBC, which was replaced by David Letterman's Late Night when a disastrous format change killed it.
  • Studio Audience: None, as that had been one of the changes NBC made to Tomorrow that led to its demise, so Snyder completely avoided it here. The guffaws you heard when Tom recounted his day (where the monologue would go in a more traditional show) were from the crew.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Snyder's freewheeling, casual style of interviewing and eclectic range of guests makes his various shows, including this one, feel like Podcast ancestors.
  • Variations on a Theme Song: The show used an even more upbeat version of the theme for at least the second anniversary week in 1997.

    Craig Kilborn's run 
  • Guest Host: After Kilborn left, several people rotated as guest hostsnote . The guests were whittled down to four finalists — D. L. Hughley, Damien Fahey, Michael Ian Black, and of course, Craig Ferguson — who hosted one week each.
  • Mythology Gag: Kilborn also had the segments "5 Questions" and "A Moment For Us", which he had originated on The Daily Show. He brought his "5 Questions" segment to his short-lived weeknight show, The Kilborn File.
  • Running Gag: Dick Vermeil's teary Super Bowl victory speech, the PG&E rapping grandmother.
  • Title Theme Tune: "The Late Late Show is starting. The Late Late Show is starting now...with Mr. Kilborn." Sung by Chris Isaak, no less.

    James Corden's run 
  • Ambiguously Human: James Corden's travails trying to do "Celebrity Noses" involve him butting heads with a stressed digitized British voice that plays at helping him with technical difficulties where, somewhere down the line, he directly questioned if the other speaker was really human.
  • Awesome McCoolname: James Corden allows for the idea that "Mike Esperanto", President Trump's miswritten name for his Secretary of Defense, is a cooler name than "Mike Esper".
  • "Basic Instinct" Legs-Crossing Parody: Michael Douglas reprised his role as Detective Nick Curran in a Basic Instinct spoof, with James himself replacing Sharon Stone. After repeated leg crossing moments, Douglas eventually has to throw up.
  • Battle Rapping: The "Drop The Mic" segment on James' run eventually got picked up by TBS for its own show, hosted by Method Man and Hailey Baldwin.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When Sebastian Stan made an appearance with his teenage celebrity crush Sharon Stone, he started flirting with her in his native Romanian. His pickup line of choice was "Ce faci?",which translates to "How you doing?" Smooth.
  • Camp Straight: James is a musical theater star who loves 1990's Boy Bands and gushes over the likes of Lady Gaga and Madonna. If he wasn't married to a woman with two kids, you'd be forgiven if you assumed he was as gay as the day is long.
  • Cold Open: Unusually for a late night talk show, James does his monologue before the title sequence.
  • Companion Show: James gently tweaked CBS for their decision to fill the summer gap in the 11:35 slot between David Letterman's retirement and Stephen Colbert's debut with reruns of various primetime dramas, by doing cold open sketches with a Talking Dead-style aftershow for The Mentalist, Talking Mentalist. It later got an aftershow of its own, Talking Talking Mentalist (in which they talk about the previous Talking Mentalist), and a successor in Talking Hawaii Five-0, complete with bonus Chris Hardwick.
  • Corpsing:
    • In this installment of Celebrity Noses, the guitarist behind Reggie is just barely keeping it together whenever the camera cuts back to them.
    • The members of One Direction are clearly laughing during the "BALL IN YOUR FACE" scene in the "Dodgeball with One Direction" sketch - the camera pans quickly so it's less obvious, but they're obviously laughing.
    • James himself can't quite hold it together after a few choice ad-libs from Neil Patrick Harris during their Riff-Off.
    • He also is visibly smiling when the audience starts singing "Uptown Girl" in this installment of "Audience Q&A."
  • Even the Guys Want Him:
  • Guest Host: Corden's had several stars fill in for him on occasion, but all-time favorite guest Jeff Goldblum's go-round on December 12, 2019 deserves special mention with an elaborate opening musical number about being this trope, a monologue that included a Take That! at Carpool Karaoke (actually his second after that July's "Drop the Mic" rap battle with Corden) and an Enforced Plug for his Disney+ show The World According to Jeff Goldblum, and the "Animals Riding Animals" game being changed to "Animals Riding Jeff Goldblum". He and his jazz band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra also served as the musical guests.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Harry Styles of One Direction is a frequent guest and good friend of James.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite his major role in the musical Into the Woods, celebrities in the Carpool Karaoke are usually baffled when James busts out a hell of a tune.
    • James' dad is surprisingly good at playing the sax, as evidenced in his jam with Anderson.Paak.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Eddie Redmayne's reaction when James shows a clip of him singing "Memory" from their high school years.
      Eddie: I knew coming onto this show was a bad idea!
    • Natalie Portman reacts similarly when her old environmental pop group, the Earth Patrol Kids, are shown.
  • Old Shame: James loves to invoke this by bringing up an embarrassing early project/experience of one of his guests and showing a clip or picture (much like Graham Norton, whose show's format is very similar to James'). The reaction of the guest usually elicits an Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Painful Rhyme: While performing a recap, at rhyming "Disney Plus" with "John Legend was named the sexi-est", Alicia Keys pauses and grins apologetically.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
    • Anna Kendrick has been a frequent guest and good friend of James.
    • Emily Blunt is verging on this as well. Emily and James had previously played a married couple in Into the Woods also co-starring Kendrick.
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: On the June 8, 2016 episode, Corden brings up that Wayne Brady had made a joke about a website called on the last episode, and learned it was network policy that CBS had to buy any fictitious domain name mentioned on his show so it doesn't get squatted by someone else. However, Corden agreed that this was an opportunity that they just had to seize, so they made it a real site where you could upload pictures of yourself and your mom to place in a picture of a stick figure massaging another. His discussion of it then turned into a ticket plug, suggesting that you should take your mom to a taping, and massage each other there. Then, it turned into a plug for his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, which turned into an Overly Long Gag in which Corden listed off every single social networking service or app he is supposedly on.
  • Police Lineup: A skit had James playing a man in a lineup with three conspicuously good-looking, chiseled, muscular men, initially denying it, then liking the sound of being recognized as such and trying to match the victim's descriptions.
  • Rail Enthusiast: The whole joke in the Fifty Shades of Grey parody with Jamie Dornan is that James's deep secret is his enthusiasm for model trains rather than BDSM.
  • Retool: The format of Corden's version veers closer in style to British chat shows (such as The Graham Norton Show) than the typical U.S. standards, by having multiple guests come out and be interviewed together for the duration of the show, rather than having them come out one at a time and sometimes having the first guest leave. He also doesn't do his interviews from behind a desk either, preferring to pull up a chair to the left of the guests' couch instead.
  • Running Gag: Reggie Watts announces James as being from a different city at the start of each episode. In recent episodes, he has begun saying a city, but attaching it to a completely different location. For example, he introduced James as being from Milwaukee, Illinois. There is no town in Illinois called Milwaukee.
  • Serial Escalation: Sting and James performed a sketch where they played rival singing waiters engaged in a war of oneupsmanship with each coming back with a more ludicrous way of performing for the restaurant's patrons.
  • Side-Effects Include...: Invoked by a recurring sketch, showing side effects of various activities.
  • Teasing the Substitute Teacher: Discussed in Guest Host Jeff Goldblum's monologue. He can't be fooled by anyone in the audience into just ordering pizza for everybody instead of following the show's "lesson plan".
  • Troubled Production: invoked
    • "I smell a good time, you smell a good time: it's time for Celebrity Noses!" It is ostensibly a game of some description, but something always goes wrong (such as Reggie having issues getting the theme music right, the intro graphic glitching, James losing the cards, Reggie insisting the segment be broadcast online via Periscope even though it's going to be on TV eventually, "human error" causing intros for other segments to come up instead, and then the backdrop spontaneously catching on fire), and then they run out of time and can't even play it.
    • Also, one of the writers will play a fictional expert in some field (from science to even gift-wrapping) with the name of a European soccer player (especially those who played in the English Premier League) to do a segment towards the end of the show. Unfortunately, Reggie and the band don't stop playing, causing there to be no time left for the segment. This usually results in the "expert" taking their anger out on James, to the point that they storm out of the studio, or James has to call for security.
    • A segment where James is to take questions about him or the show from the audience is always thrown off by someone asking something irrelevant. Once, it was nothing but questions about the parking situation at CBS Studio City.
  • What an Idiot!: invoked People who pick anything but "D: None of the above" in the studio audience game called "None of the Above."
    Audience member: I'm going to go with "B".
    James: I'm going to make sure you'd like to go with "B" even though the game is called "None of the Above."
    Audience member: Can I change my answer?
    James: Oh, no, noooo, you can stick with B if you want!
  • While You Were in Diapers: One of Jeff Goldblum's responses to Corden's insults, several of which mock his age (he was 66 at the time), in their Drop the Mic rap battle is "When you were born, I was already 25/Which means I've been a sex symbol longer than you've been alive!"
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: A professional Manchester United player on a field against 100 kids when the host takes to the field: "I'm afraid to hurt the kids... but I'm not afraid to hurt James."