10 ‘Late Late Show With James Corden’ Moments That Actually Didn’t Suck

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
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After eight years of celebrity singalongs, musical reenactments, and a million truth-or-dare-style segments with the Kardashians, The Late Late Show with James Corden is saying goodbye.

Despite its viral success—particularly for the Emmy-winning Carpool Karaoke segment—many people aren’t exactly mourning the end of the late-night program. Although rumors that British boy band One Direction could be reuniting for the final episode, airing tonight, have made an otherwise somber event a reason to celebrate.

It goes without saying that Corden is not a particularly well-liked individual, at least on social media (notwithstanding YouTube, where the Late Late Show’s games and sketches still reign supreme). Upon taking over the show from funnier British person Craig Ferguson (sorry!) in 2015, Corden quickly earned a reputation for being, well, not as sharp or charismatic as the rest of his late-night counterparts (I’m even including that constantly wheezing animatronic known as Jimmy Fallon).

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Anyone who’s watched Corden perform an opening monologue or vapidly converse with a celebrity will tell you that the BAFTA-winning actor is mostly just very animated and not particularly quick, witty, or skilled at interviewing. Initially, much of the controversy surrounding his hiring for the job—on top of the fact that he was yet another white man taking a late-night slot from a woman and/or person of color—was his lack of stand-up credentials. Since then, he’s also been outed for supposedly being a jerk in real life.

As a host, his theater-kid earnestness and willingness to do just about anything with famous people—funny or unfunny—sometimes veered into awkward territory, like that infamous crosswalk musical with the cast of Cinderella (2021). Still, in rare moments, The Late Late Show managed to transcend Corden’s shortcomings as a comedian. With that in mind, let’s get into some of the show’s best moments from the past eight years.

George Clooney and Julia Roberts sing “Hollaback Girl”

Watching George Clooney and Julia Roberts belt the lyrics to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” is better than the entirety of their 2022 flop rom-com Ticket to Paradise. In 2016, while promoting the forgotten-about thriller Money Monster, the two movie stars crashed Stefani’s Carpool Karaoke to perform her 2004 hit as well as Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” It was the Gen-X crossover we never knew we needed, and the clip is even more satisfying knowing that Roberts is a bona fide Stefani Soldier.

Dave Grohl openly hating Corden’s dumb game

At times, Corden’s offputting ways implausibly inspired the show’s best moments, like when Dave Grohl was forced to partake in an awkward game called “James That Tune” with Hilary Duff. Grohl and Duff were tasked with naming whatever tune Corden was “playing” on a keyboard; in this case, they were Foo Fighters classics. The twist? Corden doesn’t actually know how to play the keyboard! The game is stupid and goes on for an awkward amount of time. But watching a disgruntled Grohl, who famously hated his Carpool Karaoke experience, look on as Corden desecrates his life’s work is hysterical.

Hell’s Cafeteria, aka “idiot sandwich”

Corden and the Late Late Show staff loved to make celebrities reenact their most iconic moments in lazily written sketches. “Gordon Ramsay’s going to be on the show? Let’s have him yell at Corden like he’s on Hell’s Kitchen!” However, this otherwise C+ segment gave the internet the instantly iconic image of Ramsay holding Julie Chen Moonves’ face between two slices of bread and making her call herself an “idiot sandwich.”

Katie Couric’s fake fall

If you’ve watched even one episode of The Late Late Show, you know that Corden’s guests enter the studio by walking down a flight of stairs while smiling into a camera and giving high-fives to audience members before being allowed to sit down. Katie Couric reminded us of this potential hazard by having a body double dramatically fall down the stairs. The best part of the prank is that the audience members seem to suspect that it’s fake, based on the lack of responses. But Corden, who runs over frantically, is clearly dreading a lawsuit and maybe cancellation.

Adele raps Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” verse

Nicki Minaj’s contribution to Kanye West’s “Monster”—the only part of the song that anyone cares about—has been rapped and lipsynced to death by famous (and non-famous) white people, including Millie Bobby Brown and Allison Williams. But something about British superstar Adele having memorized these lyrics just feels right. The rest of her Carpool Karaoke segment is just as hilarious and delightful.

Tom Cruise forces Corden to skydive

If Tom Cruise is going to use his evil powers for anything, it should be to make Corden partake in one of his many death wishes.

Tom Cruise takes Corden on a Top Gun-sponsored jet ride

Again, this is the best use of Cruise’s lawless tendencies.

Corden dresses up as MC Skat Kat for Paula Abdul

One of The Late Late Show’s first viral clips, this “Opposite Attracts” music video reenactment was perhaps a preview of all the hammy, nostalgic segments to come. And yet, who can deny watching Paula Abdul bust out her signature moves and receive a rare salute for her musical contributions? I imagine some younger viewers discovered that Abdul was more than just “that lady from American Idol” after this episode aired.

Dodgeball with One Direction

It’s no secret that Corden is good buddies with the guys from 1D, whose many Late Late Show appearances made for some of the best interviews and sketches. Admittedly, “Dodgeball with One Direction” isn’t exactly laugh-out-loud funny, despite Corden’s best efforts. Still, it gave Directioners like myself the rare opportunity to see 1D interact outside of sit-down interviews and onstage performances. And the tirelessly working boy band, who allegedly all hated each other toward the end of their run, genuinely looked like they were having a good time.

Harry Styles and Kendall Jenner reconnect over bug trifle

Anyone who’s read a Harry Styles profile knows that he’s kind of a boring dude, and his recent relentless touring schedule has seemingly made him even more of a lifeless robot. However, during his weeklong residency guest-hosting The Late Late Show in 2017, he managed to show a goofier, more playful side of himself, including when he had to interview former flame Kendall Jenner. On paper, these two sound like a snoozy couple, but they managed to reveal some surprising chemistry during a game of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” Let’s just say things got buggy.

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