Much has changed in the 13 months since we ran our last late-night talk show host rankings. Jon Stewart handed his seat over to Trevor Noah. Stephen Colbert debuted on CBS to big fanfare before slowly settling in at the middle of the ratings pack. James Corden struck upon the kind of recurring viral bit tapped into today’s pop culture that’s helped Jimmy Fallon dominate the current late night landscape. Seth Meyers sat down. Chelsea Handler debuted a new half-hour talk show on Netflix, and although it doesn’t technically have a fixed late-night time slot, new episodes hit the service three nights a week at like 3 AM our time, and that’s pretty damn late.
The last two years have been perhaps the most volatile ever for late-night talk shows—of all the shows on this list, only Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens: Live were on the air when 2014 started—and with all that change and the sheer number of options available now it can be hard to keep track of who’s on what show, what show’s on what network, and what shows are worth watching. If you’re looking for recommendations for what to watch at the end of the day, or what talk shows to stockpile on the DVR until Sunday morning, here’s where we stand on the current state of the late-night talk show.
Note that we’re only considering comedy talk shows that air after primetime and more than once a week. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee would be one and two at the top of the list if they aired more than once a week and if they had regular guest interview segments.These are shows that fall under the traditional rubric of the late-night talk show, in the vein of Johnny Carson and David Letterman and Jay Leno, with The Daily Show only skirting by because of the interview segment.