The Greatest Talk Show Hosts

Whether it’s daytime or late night, talk shows have been a staple in the American television diet for decades and some of hosts are so iconic that despite being off the air for years, we still know their names.

Here are some of the biggest names in talk show history that have made their mark on the genre.

Johnny Carson

“Here’s Johnny!” isn’t just a line from The Shining; the Johnny in question is none other than Johnny Carson who served as the host of The Tonight Show for three decades and was crowned the original “King of Late Night.”

When Jack Paar left The Tonight Show in 1962, NBC tapped little known game show host and comedian Carson as his replacement. Carson’s gentle celebrity skewering, intimate interviews, and goofy characters turned an already popular show into a massive hit. Carson continued to dominate the airwaves right up until his retirement in 1992.

Jon Stewart

Despite his insistence that he was “just a comedian,” Jon Stewart, who hosted Comedy Central’s satirical news program The Daily Show from 1999 to 2015, was once considered a more trusted news source than both Bloomberg and the Economist. Stewart somehow managed to be side splittingly funny while exposing the hypocrisy of politics along with the divisiveness of the news media, which was no small feat during the depressing post-9/11 Bush era.

In these current trying political times, Americans need Stewart’s enlightening takes and hilarious reaction shots more than ever, but sadly for us the comedian is busy enjoying his well-deserved retirement.

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Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert has been holding his own as the current host of CBS’s The Late Show, but nothing compares to his performance as the dim-witted right wing political pundit Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

This Daily Show spin-off which ran from 2005 to 2014 featured Colbert playing a Conservative commentator who he described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.” Through his blind egotism, willful ignorance, and over the top patriotism, Colbert highlighted the problem of “truthiness” in political news coverage by embodying it, while keeping us informed and entertained at the same time.

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