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Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time

Updated on April 28, 2017

Late Night Legends

David Letterman is a legend when it comes to late night talk shows. He always has a top ten list which is simply hilarious.
David Letterman is a legend when it comes to late night talk shows. He always has a top ten list which is simply hilarious. | Source
Jay Leno is a great comedian and late night talk show host. His opening remarks where he makes fun of world events is off the hook.
Jay Leno is a great comedian and late night talk show host. His opening remarks where he makes fun of world events is off the hook. | Source
Johnny Carson is the most famous late night talk show host in history. His show was groundbreaking and many of the skits on the show were done at a spur of the moment.
Johnny Carson is the most famous late night talk show host in history. His show was groundbreaking and many of the skits on the show were done at a spur of the moment. | Source
The Daily Show features John Stewart and it pokes fun at Politics and other social issues of the week.
The Daily Show features John Stewart and it pokes fun at Politics and other social issues of the week. | Source
In 2003 Jimmy Kimmel Live premiered and Jimmy has never looked back. He has stand up comics, athletes and musicians on his show all the time.
In 2003 Jimmy Kimmel Live premiered and Jimmy has never looked back. He has stand up comics, athletes and musicians on his show all the time. | Source
The Late Show with Carson Daly has musical acts, comedians, movie stars and other celebrities on his show every night through the  week. Daly, himself, is a stand up comic and it shows during his late night talk show.
The Late Show with Carson Daly has musical acts, comedians, movie stars and other celebrities on his show every night through the week. Daly, himself, is a stand up comic and it shows during his late night talk show. | Source

Who is The Best?

Who is the best late Night talk show host?

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Talk Show Rankings

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Jimmy Fallon

The Best of Late Night

1. The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (1962): Johnny Carson is the ultimate Late Night Talk Show icon. Although he was often emulated, he was never equaled. He did over the top antics for his show including dressing up in a wild costume such as a genie, or having large animals with their handlers on his show. Celebrities saw it as a true honor when they were asked to be on his show. He is universally accepted as the King of Late Night Talk Show Hosts. He was purely unique and he set the standard for all future late night talk show hosts.

2. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (1992): Leno took Johnny Carson's place on The Tonight Show and although Carson can not be replaced, Jay Leno is as close as you can get. He always had a great band on stage and his guests usually are music acts as well as, other celebrities. One of the best parts of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is the opening segment. Leno basically makes fun of all the news that happened in the last few days, and any other events that he wants to tear in to. He always has insightful and funny questions for his celebrity guests.

3. The Late Show With David Letterman (1982): Letterman is the #1 nemesis of Jay Leno and has done a great job battling him for the top spot in the Nielsen Ratings. Letterman has had some of the largest acts in history appear on his show in the last thirty plus years. One of the best parts of the Late Show is, when Letterman sits at his desk and reads his comment cards.He has put together a list of the top ten. After he reads each funny comment, he tosses the card behind him and it makes a noise like the sound of glass breaking. I remember one particular show that he went to the roof and was throwing things down on the people below.

4. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (1999): The Daily Show discusses all the news topics for the week, along with, all other current events. No topic including The President, is over the top for Jon Stewart. His jokes are raw and uncut and although he has live guests on his television show, he can also have guests that are "on his show" via satellite. He has a very dry sense of humor that is often laugh out loud hilarious.

5. Jimmy Kimmel Live (2003): I first started watching Jimmy Kimmel on win Ben Stein's money. He would co-host the game with Ben Stein and they would pick at each other throughout the game. He was also a stand up comedian. Jimmy Kimmel's comedy antics have included, Takin' It To The Street With The Everyday Man in which he ask questions of people walking down the street. He continues to have top notch musicians and celebrity guest on his show.

6. Last Call With Carson Daly (2002): His show is thirty minutes long and they all have pre-taped musical performances. Daly is a big hit with the younger viewing audience, and in a way has helped to regenerate interest in late night talk shows for people under 30 years of age. Although, he jokes a lot, he tends to get more serious when he is sitting with his guests, during couch conversation.

7. Real Time With Bill Maher (2003): Real Time airs once a week on HBO and has had 258 episodes so far.Each week Maher has new guests that form a panel surrounding him. Maher and his guests discuss, politics and other important current events. Democrats or Republicans are not safe from Maher's type of humor. Since he is on HBO, he will sometimes let the vulgarities fly freely.

8. The Colbert Report (2005): Stephen Colbert is the host of this spin-off from The DalyShow. The guests appear in person and by satellite also. His show is about poking fun at political officers. He always ended his show with a final thoughts segment that could be crude and rude but, always humorous.

9. Chelsea Lately (2007): This is a very busy 30 minute show that opens with a stand-up performance by Handler. The topics up for discussion are pop culture or current events. She is no holds barred to say the least. She has a list of round table regulars Heather McDonald, Bill Bellamy, Josh Wolf and Jen Kirkman just to name a few. They take on any subject without blushing.

10. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (2009):
Just to start off, he will probably end up higher on this list over time. He hasn't been around as long as some of the other talk show hosts so, it is not fair to list him above some of the others. Jimmy Fallon got his start for being a writer and actor on Saturday Night Live. He has musical guests, athletes and film actors on his show.

Jay Leno Bloopers

Location of Late Night with Conan

Johnny Carson Bloopers

© 2013 Buster Johnson

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    • Annie Miller profile image

      Annie Miller 4 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      I was a fan of Johnny Carson ... Jay Leno, not so much. I watched Dave for years and eventually grew tired of him. I also gave Craig Ferguson a try. I'm not much interested in watching a few minutes of idle chatter about the latest movie some inane celebrity is plugging.

      I'm getting old and cranky! Now, I prefer watching BBC crime dramas on my Netflix instant queue!

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