teven Colbert just launched a new show on CBS featuring virtual characters called "Tooning Out The News". With four full episodes and a collection of daily shorts already live, Tooning Out The News is a fun way to consume current events as talking cartoon heads quip, troll, and shallowfake their way through the day's most interesting headlines.
Colbert teams up with colleagues Chris Licht, RJ Fried, and Tim Luecke, along with a talented team of creatives, to bring this show to life. This team make-up allows TOTN to leverage collective learning experiences from the network's prior success launching Our Cartoon President.
As for the make-up of the show, TOTN comically bounces viewers through a series of memey segments with equally memey descriptions:
- “Big News” – America’s Most Trusted Source of Conventional Wisdom. James Smartwood hosts this satire of ego-centric cable news anchors who only offer the most conventional takes.
- “Inside the Hill” – Where America Turns to Hear Rich People Agree with Each Other. Co-hosts Richard Ballard and Sarah Sabo discuss the latest political headlines with Washington’s elite.
- “Hot Take” – The Biggest, Baddest, Bad Faith Arguments on Television. A politically diverse and wildly ill-informed panel weighs in on the news of the day.
- “Virtue Signal” – There’s No Cause This White Lady Can’t Make About Herself. Kylie Weaver hosts this satire of liberal cable news anchors who pat themselves on the back for taking up every social and political cause.
- “Smart Talk Tonight” – Important discussions, discussed importantly. Come on in, the water’s smart. Kenneth Parsons and Chloe Kline conduct in-depth, in studio, one-on-one interviews with real-life newsmakers.
While TOTN's headline-reacting, segmented format may resemble your favorite late night show, the medium is far from familiar. The creative use of cartoon personalities mixed in with human interviews and recent events proves late night television has fewer rules, greater creative potential, and even greater raw entertainment value than previously imagined. Those in the virtual influencer industry already know the pros of character-driven, mixed-reality storytelling like TOTN: message control, higher engagement, direct access to younger generations, PR opportunities, innovative mediums, shareability, and more. Now, we witnesses Steven Colbert leverage these pros on a national stage.
Should the raw content quality prevail, all other dynamics of the show are poised to be a home run among younger generations.
Fundamentally, any given late night show features reaction-based content in video format where a host steers the audience's reactions through their expressions, scripted lines, and comedic delivery. This format shares unexpected similarities to a much simpler content medium, one which said younger generations use for news and information: memes.
The meme industry is no stranger to reaction-based photo & video content based on current events. Tooning Out The News adapts the late show format into a surefire medium to win the attention spans of younger, meme-obsessed generations. Therein lies the absolute innovation of Tooning Out The News.
Kudos to CBS for exploring the pros of character-driven media experiences, and congrats to the Tooning Out The News team on a successful, innovative launch.