The 10 Most Successful Late-Night Show Hosts

Jimmy Fallon and Terry Crews
Gossip Cop

Everybody loves to watch a movie or television show that is going to make them laugh out loud and forget about their troubles for an hour or so. The latest craze in the world of comedy at the moment is late-night television. We love nothing more than to watch celebrities being made fun of and playing stupid games late at night while a host delivers a side-cracking monologue. We have put together a list of some of the best late-night show hosts the world has loved both in the past and in the present.

1. Joan Rivers

Joan RiversThe Province

Joan Rivers is hilarious, brutal, and even more hilarious. These days, she is more known for her on-point and giggle-worthy roasting of cringe-worthy celebrity fashion choices on the red carpet, but it is not what Joan Rivers always made the headlines for. Back in the day, Rivers use to be a successful standup comedian. She made her break thanks to Johnny Carson, like many comedians of her time. She first appeared on The Tonight Show in 1965 and from there regularly sat in for Carson during the 70s and 80s. Her famous tagline was “Can we talk?” and she became the first woman to host a late-night talk show when the Fox network began airing The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.

2. Jay Leno

Jay LenoRadar Online

Jay Leno is not the most loved among fellow comedians thanks to his cutthroat ways though they seemed to have worked well for him. He pushed David Letterman out of the running to take his spot on The Tonight Show and then came back to rescue the ratings after Conan O’Brien had a run. Though he managed to make a name for himself, even those who love him have trouble pinpointing what exactly makes his comedy any good. Dishing out old O. J. Simpson and Lindsay Lohan jokes, they might be funny but never overly clever. It’s like watching your dad try and make everyone laugh at Christmas dinner; you can’t help but shut your eyes and cringe while you think, “No, not again!”

Many say he used to be a great standup comedian but became dull when he entered the world of television. Even fellow comedian Jimmy Kimmel dislikes Leno’s standup routine, and went as far as saying, “He was a master chef who opened a Burger King”.

While the food might not be all that great, it’s still successful with the consumers. Maybe that just goes to show that, even with jokes, you should never underestimate a classic.

3. Larry King

Larry KingNew Jersey

It was probably lucky that Larry King was delivering the jokes rather than sitting on the other side of them. With a Brooklyn accent, eight marriages under his belt, choosing to always sport red suspenders that are a crime to fashion, and not being an overly smart guy, he would have been extremely easy to mock. At times, he would confuse Ringo Starr with the already deceased George Harrison, but it seems people loved it. Though he had a shaky start with CNN in 1985, he eventually rose to become one of the biggest cable TV stars and helped grow the network’s name. He interviewed almost everyone you can think of and always keep his questions short and sweet. Many people loved the fact that he would never fail to ask the simple question of “Why?”

4. Steve Allen

Steve AllenWikimedia Commons

Starting up on NBC in 1953, he hosted the show called Tonight Starring Steve Allen and was the man who started it all. Throughout his 105-minute show, Steve Allen delivered musical comedy full of talented wordplay that inspired generations of comedians and television show hosts for years to come. It’s pretty much impossible to fault this fella.

5. Johnny Carson

Johnny CarsonParade

On air for a massive 30 years, Johnny Carson was the man all standup comedians wanted to please. If you could get a spot on The Tonight Show and impress him enough to get a callback, then your career was pretty much made. Being on television for so long meant Carson survived many of society’s changes, the ups and downs of pop culture, and yet continued to remain relevant and always on-point. He knew how to take the lead of a conversation and make any situation he wanted hilarious. He knew when to sit back and let someone talk or when to step in and stir the pot. He always knew what would make his show look the best. Lastly, his monologues were like a baby’s lullaby that everyone in the nation looked forward to hearing before falling asleep each night.

6. Jon Stewart

Jon StewartThe Huffington Post

Having had stints on MTV’s The Jon Stewart Show and starring in movies like The Faculty and Playing by Heart, none had helped Jon Stewart reach the big time yet. However, when he started on The Larry Sanders Show, people began to take notice, particularly the people at Comedy Central. They chose Stewart to replace Craig Kilborn on The Daily Show in 1999. After a few years running the show, Stewart managed to turn it into one of the funniest things to air on television. In what some might consider his most amazing achievement, Stewart managed to create a platform where anyone from any walk of life, including authors, presidents and congressman, could speak directly to a younger audience and actually have them listen.

7. Dick Cavett

Dick CavettFast Company

Dick Cavett hosted his fair share of different talk shows over the years, but the one he was most well-known for ran on ABC from 1969 to 1975.  Cavett’s show was actually something quite different from anything at the time. Instead of simply booking A-list celebrities and comedians, Cavett liked to walk on the wild side and tended to book rock stars like John Lennon, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and other interesting types of guests. However, the show did not get major ratings and it was cancelled in 1975.

8. Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy KimmelBusiness Insider

Jimmy Kimmel has recently become a massive name in modern-day late-night television. From cohosting Comedy Central’s The Man Show, he managed to grab himself his own airtime with Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC. He is known for his hilarious comedy sketches and for always bringing in celebrities to take part in the first half of his show. Be sure to tune into the second part where the comedy continues as he carries out interviews with an array of famous faces. He is proof that watching celebrities being made fun of never gets old. He always pre-films a lot of skits to share on social media. Some of his biggest hits so far have actually been the music video "F*cking Matt Damon” and the recurring segment “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”.

9. Craig Ferguson

Craig FergusonLos Angeles Times

Craig Ferguson changed up the conventional way of running a late-night television show when he starting hosting The Late Late Show. When he first hit the screen, the Scottish-born host had to go without a house band, so he decided to do away with some other traditions as well. He stopped pre-preparing monologues and questions for guests. He then introduced his sidekick Geoff, a gay skeleton robot who sported a mohawk. He did what he wanted and didn’t care what others thought of it, which is probably what made him particularly popular for a while there.

10. Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon and Terry CrewsGossip Cop

The sixth host of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon is another late-night television show host currently making big waves. Another host smashing the comedy field, his style is a little bit different. He doesn’t try to make his guests look bad and always breaks the age-old rule about cracking up at your own jokes on your own show. Basically always getting A-list names to play dumb and fun games, Fallon is another one who shows that making celebrities do embarrassing things will always be funny and he constantly posts content on social media. Did we mention he is making a killing doing so? #jealous

See also: 8 Struggles at Work Only Funny People Will Understand

Whenever you’re having a bad day, make sure to look up these 10 late-night show hosts’ comedy material on YouTube for a quick pick-me-up! Who is your favorite late-night show host? Let us know in the comments section below!