David Letterman's retiring: 'Late Show' hunger games begin

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

Okay, some of these are jokes, but some of them aren't.

With David Letterman announcing on Thursday that he will be retiring from The Late Show (CBS, OMNI) some time in 2015, speculation has begun as to who might replace him. That assumes, of course, that CBS wants to stay in the late-night game at 11:30 p.m.

One thing to remember about late-night shows is they're a grind. As great a vehicle as they are, not everyone has the stamina or the desire to do them. Because when you do them, you can do little else. And not many people actually have all the tools to excel in this genre, to be blunt.

Nonetheless, scanning the entertainment horizon, here are some names that came to my mind right away, some plausible, some less so. But the Lettermans of the world don't leave every day – or even every decade – so let's have some fun with this while we can.

CRAIG FERGUSON

He follows Letterman on CBS now, but Ferguson had bigger buzz five years ago. He has said in the past that he isn't really interested in replacing Letterman. And Ferguson is 51. CBS may be the “old people's network,” but there's a good chance they might want to go a little younger.

JON STEWART

Many would argue he has the perfect job for his skill set already with The Daily Show. But he has been doing that show since 1999. Time for a change? Then again, he's also 51.

STEPHEN COLBERT

We all know he's playing a character on The Colbert Report, right?

JIMMY KIMMEL

He might be interested, and CBS has poached before, getting Letterman from NBC back in 1993.

CHELSEA HANDLER

There will be a predictable push for a woman to get the job. And she's leaving her show on E! But I can't really see this one happening.

TINA FEY

I like this idea. But I fear she'd never do it.

JERRY SEINFELD

Again, I fear he'd never do it. I don't think he wants to work that hard any more.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS

This one actually has a strong ring of possibility to me. The timing is good, with How I Met Your Mother having wrapped up earlier this week.

JOEL McHALE

The star of Community and The Soup might be a little too smart-assy for the mainstream late-night masses. But hey, couldn't we have said the same thing about Letterman in 1982?

DREW CAREY

Would the price be right?

ELLEN DeGENERES

She'd have to change up some of her dancing styles for an evening crowd.

CONAN 'BRIEN

This would be the ultimate “f— you” to NBC.

JAY LENO

I'm just joking. I think.

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