James Corden Explains How the Pandemic Changed His Approach to 'The Late Late Show'

Lizzy Buczak
July 08, 2020 - 5:00 pm

James Corden’s late-night talk show has evolved amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During an episode of The Times’ TV podcast, “Can’t Stop Watching,” Corden told host and staff writer Yvonne Villarreal that the COVID-19 pandemic changed his approach to the "The Late Late Show."

Since mid-March, Corden – along with fellow late-night talk show hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon – has been hosting his show remotely from home.

“When I took the job, my frames of reference were like Jimmy Fallon doing lip-sync battles, Jimmy Kimmel getting people to read mean tweets and shots of David Letterman covering himself in Rice Krispies and being lowered into a giant bowl of milk or doing like stupid pet tricks and I was like, “Yeah, I can do this.” ... I’m fundamentally, at my core, a performer, writer, and I really love making people laugh,” the 41-year-old explained.

However, the type of content that worked previously doesn’t resonate as well with audiences during a pandemic. Instead, he learned that entertaining and good content can have more depth.

“I’ve really, really, really loved is having our deeper, one-on-one conversations. The conversation we had with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson was profound and beautiful. Our interview with Joe Biden, again, I’m very proud of it. Talking with Nancy Pelosi. Talking with Gov. Gavin Newsom. Talking with all of these people, I’ve really, really enjoyed,” he elaborated.

Corden said the biggest challenge has been removing so many of the segments that made up the variety show. The talk show was always meant to be grand in “scale, scope, and size,” but that isn’t feasible in an at-home format.

“We’ve tried to hold onto as much of our show as possible,” he said, adding that the crew anticipated the at-home set-up would be long term and therefore, built a makeshift set in his garage complete with “three cameras” and lights to make it feel like “a satellite” of the actual show.

He admitted he’s conscious of not making the audience feel the challenges. "This time in the world, I think the last thing anyone needs is someone saying, ‘Oh, we just had to change our entire show.’ It just feels like the epitome of high class problems, really," he explained.

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