Ranking The Best Late-Night Hosts
The late-night landscape has never been more influential than it is today. Thanks to the mighty internet, networks are able to give their content a second life online where, you might have noticed, much of it goes viral. For good reason.
The late-night landscape is very much evolving with its aging audience, so before it becomes something else entirely, it seemed fitting to rank the best and worst hosts currently on television. While not all late-night hosts are included, we decided to include the most influential below. Who’s number one? Scroll down to see.
8. Seth Meyers
Seth Meyers. Poor, poor Seth Meyers. Is it just me, or are we all basically waiting for Meyers’ “Late Night” to get canceled? I’ve personally never found him funny on “SNL”, and thought him to be one of the weakest “Weekend Update” hosts in the show’s history. While his solo performances on the show are watchable, his interviews are just plain terrible. Amateur, even. It almost seems like he’s too shy to ask anything remotely personal about his guests. So you basically end up with useless insights and a promotion for an upcoming movie or album that we don’t care to see/listen to anyway.
7. Trevor Noah
This one is pretty cut and dry. Noah, who is still very new at this late-night business, should thank his writers at the new “Daily Show” (where he made a few appearances before replacing Jon Stewart) for their sharp wit that carries the program.
Noah is charming, but his confidence seems a little put on. This is never more evident than when he interviews guests, which can be somewhat uncomfortable to watch. I’m sure he’ll get better (if given the opportunity to), but hey, at least he’s not as bad as Seth Meyers.
6. Chris Hardwick
You have new late-night formats, then you have “@midnight”, a completely different program altogether. The show sets three established comedians against each other in a competition of who’s funniest.
It’s nice to see a new brand of show introduced to the late-night lineup and it would appear that Hardwick’s game show approach serves him well, granting comedic guests redundant points when each of them tackles topical content that he finds funny (despite him finding everything funny. Absolutely everything). While the show is a strong and bright idea that has lasting power, Hardwick registers lower on the list because it seems like anybody could do his job.
5. Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel’s a bit of an asshole, and we love him for it. He is essentially the class-clown we all knew in high school, but with a talk show. Kimmel likes to prank celebrities whenever the opportunity presents itself (which is incredibly satisfying to watch), and more than anything else, Kimmel likes to show Americans how dumb we are by asking people on the street seemingly simple questions that we manage to always get wrong. It’s a joke that pokes fun at all of us as a nation, but for some reason, Kimmel gets away with it.
While Kimmel’s show is inarguably solid, it just doesn’t hold up to hosts higher on the list. This isn’t Kimmel’s fault, per se, but perhaps those of his writers/producers who seemingly tow the line between late-night’s new and old formats.
4. Stephen Colbert
Colbert was first introduced to mass audiences as a correspondent for parody news program “The Daily Show”, where he impressed the socks off all of us and eventually got a spin-off in 2005. That show was none other than “The Colbert Report,” a program that favored smart, cheeky political satire, and quickly became one of Comedy Central’s highest-rated series.
Now, Colbert is the proud owner of his own shiny new late show on CBS, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” which has allowed him to break free of the shackles of political humor and play to his other strengths. The show is many things; which is its biggest problem. Many argue Colbert hasn’t come into his own just yet in this new show, but it goes without saying that Colbert is a masterful interviewer and his conversations with guests are undoubtedly the hardest-hitting of the bunch.
3. James Corden
Corden, host of “The Late Late Show,” seemingly manifested out of nowhere. Regardless, the robust Brit has won the hearts of Americans everywhere with his upbeat attitude and infamous sketch: “Carpool Karaoke,” which has recently been purchased by Apple.
Corden has taken to the new late-night format, where hard-hitting interviews matter less, and getting guests drunk/jovial/loosened up through various games and activities matter more. The back and forth Corden has with his guests is incredibly friendly and surface level, but nobody really cares because at the end of the day, the Tony award-winning comedian is here to entertain us, and he’s showing us a good time.
2. Conan O’Brien
As the last late-night host trying to keep the traditional late-night format as-is (a difficult task only he could manage), Conan has been through a lot of BS in his comedic career.
When he first began his stint on late-night in 1993, the former “Simpsons”/”SNL” writer wasn’t doing so great with critics. But when he finally found his footing (as most do after an extended period of time), Conan’s awkward, energetic and self-deprecating approach to humor was a hit with fans and he quickly became a late-night pundit who many considered the funniest on television.
Understandably, O’Brien was then considered the frontrunner to replace Leno on the “Tonight Show” in 2009, but we all know what happened with that. However, O’Brien’s fanbase fought hard for their man, and all this support saw him hosting a show of his very own, aptly named “Conan”.
1. Jimmy Fallon
The king of late-night is none other than SNL alum Jimmy Fallon. The reason Fallon takes the top spot is primarily based on his peerless ingenuity. Fallon’s taken the classic late-night format has successfully altered it for a new generation, the internet generation. This is why, week after week, a Fallon clip seemingly goes viral and is shared by 50 percent of your Facebook contacts that you feel obligated to like.
Not only that, but his sketches — “Real Housewives of Late Night”, “Box of Lies”, reuniting the cast of “Saved By The Bell” — are better than anything currently on “SNL”. This, combined with his unbridled enthusiasm for his guests are what makes Fallon the late-night powerhouse he’s quickly become. Most appealing about Fallon’s take on the “Tonight Show” are the games with celebrity guests. Innovations like these allow audiences to see celebrities as people, people who just so happen to be famous.
And then you have these folks: 10 People Who Inexplicably Had Their Own Talk Shows