Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper have only been hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live for five years, but they already feel like an institution — or at least a towering testament to the eternal beauty of tipsy live television. The show is decisively more sauced and debauched than any other New Year’s Eve program out there, which isn’t to say it’s a total drunken mess. But it’s that endearingly unhinged quality, the sense that Cooper, and especially Cohen, are always one sip away from doing something genuinely embarrassing, that makes for great entertainment.
Alas, not everyone seems to agree. At a recent town hall discussion, CNN’s own chairman and CEO, Chris Licht, harshed everyone’s mellow by claiming the extensive on-camera drinking during New Year’s Eve Live had negatively impacted the network’s “respectability.” Additionally, one of Cohen and Cooper’s big competitors, Ryan Seacrest — host of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC — poo-poo’d the antics of TV’s top partiers in a recent interview with EW.
“I don’t advocate drinking when one is on the air,” Seacrest said. “I don’t know how that started as a tradition, but it’s probably a good idea [to scale back], CNN.”
Despite the grumbling from the corner office, and the undermining comments from a competitor, it appears that the CNN crew will not be deterred too much this year — or at least Cohen won’t be. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Cohen said CNN’s NYE correspondents won’t be drinking, though he and Cooper will be “partying responsibly.”
He added, “My job is to take Anderson out of his comfort zone [and] my job is to be a party ringleader for everyone watching us on New Year’s Eve. And that is what I will continue to do. And as a matter of fact, if the correspondents are not drinking this year, I will be partying even harder on their behalf.”
Now that’s the spirit. And in that spirit, we want to shine a light on some of the truly wonderful television moments Cohen and Cooper have provided over the last five New Year’s. Because when you really think about it, the pair are the epitome of what New Year’s Eve is all about: Getting loopy and maybe doing something stupid — but not too stupid — with great friends and loved ones.
Anderson Cooper Takes a Shot
A picture — or a moving image — says a thousand words. What else is there to say about the way Cooper squawks as his face scrunches up after downing a shot on live TV? Seriously, we’ve got nothing. (Bonus points, though, for the way Cohen, after cooly downing his own shot, quips, “It’s burning your lungs — feels good to me!”)
Andy Plays the Easiest Game With Snoop Dogg
Not long after the clock struck midnight in New York City on Jan. 1, 2021, Snoop Dogg joined the fun for a game Cohen called, “Have You Gotten High There?” As the name suggests, it was a pretty simple game, with Cohen asking Snoop if he’d smoked weed at various places. The answer to pretty much every question (unsurprisingly) was a resounding “Yes,” whether Snoop was at the White House or Martha Stewart’s house, a bar mitzvah he was paid to play, or every late-night show from Letterman to Leno. (Basically the only place Snoop hadn’t smoked weed was the DMV.)
The game itself was a true delight, though unsurprisingly, it was Cooper’s hysterical laughter throughout that elevated the clip to the sublime. After Cohen asked Snoop about the bar mitzvah, Cooper began wailing, “Where am I? Where am I?”
Andy Roasts the Mayor
Among the many great time-honored traditions in New York City, few are more deeply held and important to the citizens of this great city than getting totally pissed off at the mayor. Cohen, in fact, takes this custom — dare we say, ‘inalienable right”? — so seriously, he used New Year’s Eve Live as his soapbox multiple times to complain about former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Back in 2021, after Cooper struggled to keep it together after another shot, Cohen quipped, “That’s how I felt when I saw Mayor de Blasio dancing just now. I just don’t need to see that at the beginning of 2021 — do something with this city!”
Cohen managed to outdo himself while ringing in 2022, delivering a rant about hizzoner that was so epic it included an emphatic “Sayonara, sucks!” (de Blasio’s second and final term actually ended Jan. 1, 2022) and forced CNN’s cameras to cut away from him. Here’s hoping Cohen’s got a diatribe ready to go for de Blasio’s successor, Eric Adams.
Andy Also Roasts the Competition
Certainly, the reason Ryan Seacrest took it upon himself to weigh in on the New Year’s Eve Live shenanigans was because of the little digs Cohen took at his competitors (who also broadcast from Times Square in NYC) during last year’s show. Video of the incident appears to have been totally scrubbed from the web (boo!), but during the show, Cohen told viewers, “If you look behind me, you’ll see Ryan Seacrest’s group of losers performing. I’m sorry but if you’re watching ABC, you’re watching nothing” (via Us Weekly).
Incredible stuff. Luckily, a slightly more subtle dig at New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has survived, and it’s couched in an arguably even more ridiculous diatribe about Journey, who’d just performed on ABC. In Cohen’s expert opinion, it’s not Journey if Steve Perry ain’t singing.
At the end of the day, the great thing about Cooper and Cohen’s New Year’s Eve Live is the two just have great chemistry and often play off each other like a classic comedy double act. The banter and little bits are wonderful, whether Cohen’s trying to cajole Cooper into a cheeky post-NYE acid trip or making fun of him for asking what a sea shanty is. Then there are all the times Cohen manages to catch Cooper completely off guard, like a throwaway mention of a “bossy bottom” that caused Cooper to completely lose it. Meanwhile, Cohen remained the consummate professional, throwing it to Richard Quest for an interview with Pitbull. Now that, folks, is good television.