Which Comedic Talk Show host is your favorite?

February 21, 2018
  • 1. Jimmy Fallon
  • 2. Conan O'Brien
  • 3. Jimmy Kimme
  • 4. Ellen DeGeneres
  • 5. John Oliver
  • 6. Stephen Colbert
  • 7. Jon Stewart
  • 8. Jay Leno
  • 9. David Letterman
  • 10. Seth Meyers
  • 11. James Corden
  • 12. Trevor Noah
  • 13. Other (list in the comments)

America’s Love Affair with Comedic Talk Show Hosts

Talk shows have become an American staple, blending humor, current events, and interviews in a unique cocktail that keeps viewers returning for more. From late-night laughs to daytime delights, these hosts are often as beloved (or sometimes as controversial) as the celebrities they interview. But what is it about each host that resonates with their audience?

Jimmy Fallon

Starting off with the ever-charismatic Jimmy Fallon, we can trace his rise from his ‘Saturday Night Live’ days to commanding “The Tonight Show.” Famous for his infectious laughter and games with guests, Fallon has often been lauded for his musical talent. In fact, according to Nielsen ratings, Fallon’s first year hosting “The Tonight Show” saw an average of 3.8 million viewers nightly!

“Jimmy’s relatability and warmth are unparalleled. He feels like the best friend you want at every party,” 

Entertainment journalist Jessica Roberts

Conan O’Brien

Next up, Conan O’Brien, the man with the “coco” magic! With a decades-long career, Conan has morphed from a writer on SNL and “The Simpsons” to a self-titled show. His quirky humor and unforgettable remote segments earned him a special place in viewers’ hearts. 

Did you know? O’Brien’s commencement speech at Dartmouth in 2011 is one of YouTube’s most viewed university speeches!

“Conan’s wit is razor-sharp, yet there’s a self-deprecating charm about him that’s just irresistibly genuine,”

Comedian Sarah Mitchell

Jimmy Kimmel

Now, onto Jimmy Kimmel. With his “Mean Tweets” segment and candid conversations about healthcare, Kimmel masterfully blends humor with heart. His early days on “The Man Show” seem a world away from his poignant monologues on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!

“Kimmel has the uncanny ability to strike the perfect balance between serious and silly, making him a talk show titan.”

TV critic Mark Williams

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres brings her dance moves and heartwarming surprises to daytime with “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Celebrated for bringing joy (and generous giveaways), Ellen champions positivity. A fun fact? Ellen has won 30 Emmys!

“She’s broken barriers, danced through prejudices, and maintained a positive outlook,”

Writer Carla Fields

John Oliver

Shifting gears to John Oliver, his deep dives on “Last Week Tonight” are not just hilarious but incredibly informative. From FIFA scandals to net neutrality, Oliver’s long-form comedic journalism fills an important niche.

“John Oliver has a gift for making complex issues digestible and entertaining. It’s no wonder he’s won so many Peabody Awards!”

Oliver fan and political science professor Dr. Henry Lewis

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert, initially known for his satirical right-wing persona on “The Colbert Report,” now graces “The Late Show.” With wit and unparalleled political acumen, Colbert’s transition from cable to network TV has been seamless. Impressively, Colbert boasts a whopping 9 Primetime Emmy Awards.

“Colbert is a master satirist. His talent lies in making you think while you laugh.”

Author and critic Daniel Clarke

Jon Stewart

The mentor to many on this list, Jon Stewart transformed “The Daily Show” into a beacon for political comedy. His biting commentary and impassioned pleas for reason have made Stewart an icon.

“Before Stewart, who thought news and satire could blend so beautifully? He’s a comedic pioneer.”

Comedian Tina Gold 

Jay Leno

Known for his distinct chin and pleasant personality, Jay Leno is synonymous with late-night comedy. Steering “The Tonight Show” for over two decades, Leno’s style meshed traditional stand-up with topical humor, offering viewers a comforting comedic routine before bedtime. From his “Headlines” segment, where he humorously dissected real newspaper clippings with typos or unintentional jokes, to his casual yet probing celebrity interviews, Leno cemented his legacy in the annals of late-night TV. A fascinating tidbit? Aside from comedy, Leno has an insatiable passion for cars, boasting one of the most extensive collections in the world.

“Leno’s consistent humor and everyman approach made him a nightly staple in American households,”

television historian, Dr. Laura Bishop

David Letterman

David Letterman’s sarcastic humor and legendary Top Ten lists on “The Late Show” made him a late-night stalwart for 33 years. A curious fact? Letterman’s show introduced ‘Stupid Pet Tricks’, a segment loved by millions.

“Letterman redefined late-night. His legacy is in every show we watch today.”

Broadcaster Alan Ford

Seth Meyers

From the Weekend Update desk on SNL to “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Seth’s sharp commentary and “A Closer Look” segments are timely and hilarious. Plus, who can forget those SNL sketches?

“Seth’s intelligence shines in every joke. He’s a comedic voice for this generation.”

SNL alum Rachel Greene

James Corden

Crossing the pond, James Corden has captured American hearts with “The Late Late Show.” With ‘Carpool Karaoke’ going viral repeatedly, Corden’s affable charm is undeniable.

“Doing Carpool Karaoke was a blast. James is as genuine as they come.”

Pop star Alicia Meyers

Trevor Noah

From South Africa to “The Daily Show” desk, Trevor Noah’s fresh perspective and insightful humor have made him a fan favorite. His memoir, ‘Born a Crime,’ became a NY Times bestseller for a reason!

“Trevor’s humor shines a light on societal issues, making us both laugh and think deeply.”

Author Priya Raghav


And then there’s the “Other” category, where legends like Chelsea Handler and more might make an appearance. Everyone has their personal favorites, and the diversity of comedic styles ensures there’s a talk show host for everyone.

Fun facts

Of course! Comedic talk shows have a rich history full of fun, surprising, and sometimes downright quirky moments. Here are five fun facts about them:

  • First Comedy Talk Show: Arguably the first comedic talk show, “Broadway Open House” aired in 1950 and is considered the predecessor to the format. Hosted by Jerry Lester and later Morey Amsterdam, it laid the groundwork for many elements we see in today’s late-night comedy talk shows.
  • Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent: One of the most beloved recurring segments on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” was ‘Carnac the Magnificent.’ Carson, as Carnac, would humorously “divine” the answer to a question only after first “reading” the sealed question. It’s a shtick that’s been imitated but never duplicated!
  • “Late Night Wars”: The late-night talk show scene witnessed intense competition, dubbed the “Late Night Wars,” especially during the 1990s. This period saw hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman vying for the top spot in the ratings. The behind-the-scenes drama even inspired a book and a movie!
  • The British Invasion: While comedic talk shows are a predominantly American phenomenon, British hosts have made a significant impact in recent years. James Corden’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ segment from “The Late Late Show” has been a viral sensation multiple times, and John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” has received critical acclaim for its unique blend of comedy and deep-dive journalism.
  • Most Emmy Wins: As of my last update in September 2021, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” holds the record for the most Emmy wins by a late-night talk show, with an impressive 22 Primetime Emmy Awards! Under Stewart’s tenure, the show transformed from just another late-night program into a vital source of news and commentary for many.

These tidbits offer just a small glimpse into the fascinating world of comedic talk shows, which have been entertaining audiences for decades!

With their blend of humor and insight, talk show hosts offer Americans a nightly respite from the daily grind. Whether it’s a chuckle, a deep-thought moment, or a catchy musical number, there’s a host for every mood and preference. So, who’s your favorite? Join the conversation and vote now!

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