Late-night comedians have played an increasingly central role in American society in recent years, often serving as educators and activists as opposed to apathetic, unbiased entertainers. A decent portion of the population relies on these TV personalities for their news consumption, giving the hosts a prestige that their 20th century counterparts such as Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno did not enjoy. Their comfort with their high profiles was made possible by previous comedy work that honed their talents and introduced them to global audiences.
Stephen Colbert — The Colbert Report
Colbert, the highest-rated late-night talk show host according to Deadline, has clearly made the successful transition from cable to network television. His past performances on Comedy Central programs The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report probably enabled his current dominance of the genre, his role as host for the latter program making him a sharp comedic wit and a supremely clever satirist.
Those who have followed Colbert’s earlier work closely are probably not surprised by his current standing as one of America’s hottest comedians.
James Corden—Gavin & Stacey
British transplant James Corden was largely unknown to the American public when he was announced as the successor to beloved Craig Ferguson, but he will be leaving The late show next year as one of the most recognizable household names in the country (many have already started listing people who could replace Corden.)
Comedy fans in the UK probably knew the entertainer before his current program for his co-starring role in the sitcom Gavin and Stacey. Like Colbert, Corden transitioned from acting to presenting, and his ease with live performance allowed him to experience the transition smoothly.
Jimmy Fallon—Saturday Night Live
Before stepping onto the late-night stage as NBC’s 12:30 p.m. timeslot custodian, Fallon served as Saturday Night Live a cast member from 1998 to 2004, where he gained notoriety for his impeccable impressions and cool delivery as co-anchor of the Weekend Update segment.
He unquestionably maintained one of the most impressive and high-profile careers of all SNL alum — as evidenced by Jimmy Fallon’s best movies — which can likely be attributed to his positive disposition and commitment to achieving the broadest manageable appeal. The Tonight’s show the host was the first person to claim a late-night talk show following his tenure on the weekly sketch comedy series.
Seth Meyers – Saturday Night Live Weekend Update
While Fallon supplemented his appearances in the weekend update by portraying an array of characters in unrelated sketches, Seth Meyers was primarily a writer outside of his duties as anchor of the satirical news segment.
Meyers was editor of SNL for several years, fostering the comedic sensibility he would later apply to his exceptionally popular and uniquely influential late-night talk show. He remains clearly attached to the institution of comedy that has enabled his career, given that SNL creator Lorne Michaels is the executive producer of Late at night and the program is filmed near Saturday Night Livethe workshop.
Jimmy Kimmel – The Man Show
The current public image of late-night titan Jimmy Kimmel contrasts sharply with the reputation he had when he first entered the public eye in the late 1990s. Kimmel’s most notable project before Jimmy Kimmel Live! was Comedy Central The man showa politically incorrect and staunchly masculine series he co-hosted alongside controversial comedian Adam Corolla.
The ABC program’s social conscience and respect for marginalized demographics were often absent from the Comedy Central series, suggesting that Kimmel then lacked the maturity that clearly inspires the enlightened perspective he now holds as one of the top animators. US or UK talk show.
John Oliver – The Daily Show
John Oliver impacted public discourse to such an extent that comedians were largely unable in previous decades, fulfilling the basic demands of journalism more regularly and more effectively than a sizable portion of proper journalists can.
He developed this curiosity and skepticism about authority as the “senior British correspondent” for The Daily Show with Jon Stewartfor which he served as temporary host during Stewart’s brief absence in 2013. The daily showOliver has achieved what is perhaps the widest reach, and Last week tonight is IMDb’s highest-rated late-night talk show.
Trevor Noah – Daily Show Correspondent
Jon Stewart’s successor as host of The daily show, Trevor Noah, brought a perspective to the program that diverges radically from that of his former boss. Noah joined the Comedy Central program as a recent immigrant from South Africa, where he had been raised under brutal apartheid rule.
Despite this backdrop of adversity, Noah was visibly upbeat and cheerful during his appearances as a correspondent, and he applied that combination of optimism and worldly experience when he took on the role of host.
Samantha Bee – The Daily Show
Like John Oliver and Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee applied the talents she had displayed as Daily show corresponding to a program of its own. Full frontal with Samantha Bee is strikingly similar to the segments the comedian appeared in on Jon Stewart’s program, with Bee delivering impassioned arguments that are peppered with ruthless wit and unbridled fury.
The influence Bee wields over much of progressive America has been secured, in large part, by his commitment to staying comical despite the increasingly daunting nature of current events.
Bill Maher — politically incorrect
Bill Maher’s original program, politically incorrectwas distinctly similar to HBO Real time in format – both featured panel discussions rather than interviews with individual guests – and its current show inherited its controversial nature and warm embrace of free speech from its predecessor.
While several of the current late-night talk show hosts have established themselves as supporting cast members on series directed by others, Maher was in charge of his previous project, performing each episode’s monologue and guiding the debates that served as politically incorrectsignature segment.
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