With the retirements of Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, and David Letterman over the past few years, late-night humour has undergone a significant change. With the influx of several newcomers, the late-night conflicts have become a fractious conflict fought on numerous fronts, from TV ratings to YouTube views. However, the contentious age of Letterman and Leno has passed. Nowadays, rivalry is cordial, and everyone seems to support one another. Instead, the negative energy was directed towards Donald Trump and politics in general for a half-decade. Some hosts developed their entire brand around that. Others have made an effort to preserve the cheery, feel-good humour of the past. However, each of them has sought to forge their own niche in the comedy industry.
The top late-night talk show hosts are listed here, from worst to finest.
Daniel Baker and Joel Martinez, Desus & Mero
They are the newest residents. Although these comedians had previously collaborated on projects for Viceland and Complex TV, their 2019 Showtime series, which will premiere, is what made them famous. They have a style that airs twice a week that is more akin to John Oliver than Jimmy Fallon, with sharp seriousness and lively humour that is told from the perspective of Black and Latino people. This show succeeds best by violating such assumptions, as opposed to the conventional late-night aesthetic of a man in a suit behind a desk or standing up to deliver a monologue. These two men might be any of us, simply riffing on life while lounging on comfortable chairs and wearing whatever clothing they were wearing when they left the house. Their interviews are even great. Because they are so approachable, the couple is able to capture their guests’ truest selves. On this show, you won’t find any stuffy celebrities blandly promoting their most recent endeavour. You hear a chat here.
James Corden, The Late Late Show
In 2015, the British comedian replaced longtime presenter Craig Ferguson on American soil and introduced his brand of humour. Tens of millions of people have watched his Carpool Karaoke episodes, in which he sings while driving around town with some of the best musicians in the world. The audience loves his creative bits in which he and a guest recreate scenes from the guest’s career. He shares Fallon’s good guy persona, but in addition to that, he has a more intriguing style that makes him stand out in the crowded market thanks to his entertaining games and interviewing technique a la Graham Norton.
Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show
Again, the kind guy is the last one standing. Fallon took over as host of Late Night for five years before taking over as host of The Tonight Show in 2014. Over the years, he has drawn a lot of criticism due to his subpar interviewing abilities, his irritating tendency to laugh excessively when there isn’t even a joke, and the clumsy manner he attempted to navigate the Trump administration. He’s not that bad. Fallon is a fantastic performer, which is why he was so successful on Saturday Night Live, but his comedy lacks bite. However, a good time can be had if you like a shorter speech and enjoyable activities.
Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Kimmel has been hosting his ABC show since 2003, making him the veteran with the longest stay on the list. The previous star of Win Ben Stein’s Money and The Man Show has seen his act change from a more crude type of comedy to something that can be highly serious as well as entertaining. The host has frequently sobbed in front of the camera, whether it was in response to the most recent American tragedy or the condition of his newborn son. He was also among the most vocal opponents of the Trump administration. That doesn’t mean he has forgotten how to have fun. His popular parts like “This Week in Unnecessary Censorship” and “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” are still available, as well as his quick wit with his guests that keeps viewers on their toes. And regardless of what occurs in the world, his dispute with Matt Damon will continue.
John Oliver, Last Week Tonight
The longtime correspondent for The Daily Show and former stand-in host made a highly successful HBO debut in 2014. He carries Stewart’s torch with assurance and is the one who most resembles his former boss. The normal news coverage from the previous week is included in each episode, but the major piece, where Oliver focuses on a single topic for at least twenty minutes, is the most substantial component. It might be a topic that’s hot right now, like COVID or Critical Race Theory, or it might be something less spoken about, like the power grid or union-busting. Whatever is on his mind, the spectator is sure to laugh and learn a lot in the process. The immediacy brought on by his one episode per week approach makes his takedowns and calls for action more potent. It prevents the problems from being replaced the following night by anything else, allowing them to persist in our minds.
Samantha Bee, Full Frontal
Can we give Amber Ruffin a wider platform than Peacock, please? She was the only female of the group to stand out among the men and made her TBS debut to much acclaim in 2015. She had the exceptional chance to present a female viewpoint on the day’s news while also emphasising women’s issues that her male colleagues couldn’t adequately address. That strategy has occasionally been effective, but her more agitated demeanour has drawn criticism. Some of that was caused by patriarchal ideas about how women ought to behave, but some of it was also her fault, like when she called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c*nt.”
Seth Meyers, Late Night
In 2014, Fallon was followed by a former cast member of Saturday Night Live. He spent many years co-hosting “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey, which gave him experience in the late-night industry. His programme struggled at first, but the consistently well-liked “A Closer Look” parts propelled it to success. Meyers chooses a topic that is currently in the news and spends fifteen minutes deconstructing it, similar to what Jon Stewart did every night on The Daily Show or what John Oliver now does every Sunday. He is at his most charismatic during this time, drawing on his SNL fame. Even though Meyers’ show focuses primarily on politics, it is not sour. The cynicism is offset by a lot of laughter. Despite not being as good as a Colbert, Meyers’ interviewing talents produce engaging discussions with each guest, whether they are famous actors or world leaders.
Stephen Colbert, The Late Show
Colbert was already a late-night heavyweight from his time on The Daily Show and his decade-long tenure on the Emmy-winning The Colbert Report, and he led the field in terms of ratings. David Letterman’s replacement in 2015 proved to be more challenging than anyone had anticipated as he and the nation struggled to move past his grumpy conservative persona. Colbert really took off during the Trump administration, finding his voice by just being himself. He took over Stewart’s role as the nightly voice of reason. His speech is as intense as his interviews. He can crack jokes with the best of them, but what makes Colbert the best in the business are his serious exchanges with journalists and industry insiders, as well as his touching conversations about their shared loss with people like President Biden and Andrew Garfield.
Trevor Noah, The Daily Show
It was a difficult assignment to succeed Jon Stewart in 2015, especially since Noah wasn’t well-known to American audiences. Noah initially felt overwhelmed by that duty, but he soon gained his bearings and developed into a significant voice in the late-night hours. Noah spoke from an outsider’s perspective as someone from the other side of the planet, similarly to how Bee found her voice by providing a female perspective, but also drawing on how Millennials and Gen Z view issues. But the pandemic has damaged him. The majority of the other actors have resumed filming in front of audiences, but not Noah. When he doesn’t have an enthralling crowd in front of him, his comedy punches don’t have the same impact that other presenters’ have. The Daily Show is in desperate need of some viewers.
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