All You Need to Know About the Best Talk Shows in US Television History

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All You Need to Know About the Best Talk Shows in US Television History

All You Need to Know About the Best Talk Shows in US Television History

Talk shows are that part of the entertainment industry that not only entertain us but also keep in touch with reality. Giving us updates on all that’s happening around the world, providing us with a mix of entertainment comprising of the best artists from different walks of life, helping us get in touch with our loving selves through heartwarming stories,  peeking into the lives of celebrities and letting us on what goes on inside their lives, allowing us to take sides and uselessly delve into a bit of politics, or simply letting our hair down and dance away or headbang to the latest numbers by the latest bands — there’s indeed a lot that talk shows offer us. So in this list of All You Need to Know About the Best Talk Shows in US Television History we thought we’d bring you some of the best talk shows that made their way onto the television circuit of the US of A and attained cult status. Here we go!

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

You only have to think of the words “talk show” and Johnny Carson immediately comes to mind. The anchor and the only one who could have carried a late-night talk show on his shoulders the way he did, Johnny Carson’s show was on air for a whopping 6,714 episodes spread across 29 seasons, making The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson one of the most successful and well-loved talk shows of all time. This show was a mix of all things entertaining, and more than just a chat with guests, Johnny added to the format several other elements that made it a hit with audiences. There were interesting characters who popped by from time to time to elevate the energy of the show like Carnac the Magnificent, Art Fern, Floyd R. Turbo, El Mouldo, Aunt Blabby, David Howitzer, Consumer Supporter, and of course, in Johnny Carson’s own style, his impression of President Ronald Reagan. There were the bits too, ranging from The Mighty Carson Art Players and the How ____ was it? to Stump the Band and The Edge of Wetness. Even the guest hosts of the show were a hit with audiences, with some of the most frequent ones including names such as Joey Bishop, Joan Rivers, John Davidson, Bob Newhart, David Brenner, McLean Stevenson, Jerry Lewis, and David Letterman. And as we all know, many of these guest stars either had their own talk shows or went on to create them, probably inspired by their time here!

Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Late Night with Conan O’Brien was a late-night talk show that showcased the brilliance of Conan O’Brien, regarded by some as the greatest ever host to ever showcase his talk show talents on television. Ruling the hearts of Americans and even audiences around the world, the show ran for a total of 2,725 episodes across 16 seasons, with each episode proving to be a hit with audiences not just for the comedic brilliance of the host but also for the variety of guests it had onboard. Delving into all things entertainment and poking the bear through political satire from time to time, the show ran on NBC from September 13, 1993, to February 20, 2009, giving various artists their first big stage to perform and offering established artists a stage to talk to their audiences in a more personal manner. Filled with sarcasm and irony, bordering on wacky and absurd, the show made for quite the entertaining 42 or 43 minutes it was aired for, and although Conan O’Brien’s transition to his next show, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, was mired in controversy, the goodwill that Conan had created through Late Night with Conan O’Brien proved to be the one that helped him come out a winner in the eyes of the audience as well as his peers.

The Phil Donahue Show

The Phil Donahue Show, or simply Donahue, is ranked on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Television Shows of All-Time, and anyone who has watched the show or even caught a glimpse of it will tell you that indeed, this one was an all-out entertainer in so many ways. Running for 26 years and a whopping total of 5,515 episodes, the show was first produced in Dayton, Ohio between 1967 and 1974, followed by Chicago, Illinois between 1974 and 1985, before it finally took New York City by storm until it ended its run in 1996. Headed by the inimitable Phil Donahue, media personality, writer, film producer, as well as the creator and host of the show throughout its run, the show wasn’t always the hit television show it eventually turned out to be, and for three years, was only shown on a handful of networks, before it made it to the nationwide television circuit. Although the show did not end on a very high note, as compared to most other talk shows on this list that scored high on ratings even on their way out, The Phil Donahue Show remains an endearing part of the legacy that talk show hosts have left behind for their new peers.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

The Ellen DeGeneres Show doesn’t really need any introduction and is one of the most loved talk shows in recent times. Headed by the humorous and lovable Ellen DeGeneres, the show may have run into some rough weather of late but one look at the audience and the guests on the show will tell you that despite the bad weather outside, the show is experiencing nothing less than sunshine and happiness on the inside. With 19 seasons and more than 3,200 episodes in the bag, and counting, this daytime television variety comedy talk show first began its run on September 8, 2003, and almost two decades later, still has an audience that is crazy about all that the show stands for. In addition to its popularity, the show has also won record-breaking nominations and wins on the television awards circuit, with 171 Daytime Emmy Award nominations and 61 Daytime Emmy Award wins on the Emmy Awards platform alone. Although The Ellen DeGeneres Show has been scheduled to end its run on May 26, 2022, its fans are hoping hard that the show takes on other forms or at least that Ellen DeGeneres continues her great work in another capacity. After all, when a show is all about spreading happiness and positivity, who’d want it to end!

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

A late-night talk show created and hosted by the funny and charming Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Kimmel Live! has been a constant on the television talk show circuit for more than 17 seasons now, notching up an impressive 2,965, and counting, episodes along the way. Of course, these numbers also reveal how popular the show is with the audiences! The show, among other records it holds, is also the longest-running late-night talk show on the ABC network, bringing to the network the much-needed competitive edge it needed over its competitors. Well, don’t be fooled by the name though, because although the Jimmy Kimmel Live! name has the word “live” in it, the show hasn’t been aired live since the year 2004. Not that we’re complaining. As long as Jimmy Kimmel continues to entertain us with his jokes, antics, celebrity interviews, and the occasional emotional monologue, we’re happy to see the show on the air, live or not!

Real Time with Bill Maher

Real Time with Bill Maher is one of the more serious talk shows on this list and is an extension of the Politically Incorrect series that Bill was previously hosting on Comedy Central. Of course, we don’t really mean humorless when we use the word “serious”. We only mean that on this show, you will find Bill Maher taking on even the most in-depth of political topics and using satire and humor to explain his views to the audience. One of the longest-running shows in television history, with 20 seasons to its name, the show is also often the most controversial of the lot, thanks to Bill Maher’s non-compromising and unforgiving views on all that’s happening in the world. Of course, that’s why his fans love him too! As far as criticizing the government goes, Bill Maher has taken no sides in particular and has especially taken the Obama, Trump, and Bush administrations to the task. He has often spoken against the nation’s drug policy as well as some of its conservative views on sexuality. Taking on topics that he knows will make even his fans uncomfortable, Bill Maher is well-known to use the platform of the Real Time with Bill Maher show to poke the bear and address the elephant in the room without hesitation, even if it’s through humor.

Late Show with David Letterman

The Late Show with David Letterman, not to be confused with The David Letterman Show, is a late-night talk show that ran from August 30, 1993, to May 20, 2015, and was the CBS Network’s first successful attempt at competing with its competitor networks in the late-night talk show category. Until then, the slot was dedicated to movies, reruns, and other programs. Of course, along came David Letterman, and changed it all, not just putting CBS on the map but also giving himself a career that is recognized as one of the most successful ones in television history. Well-liked for his interviewing skills and even more for the fun and banter he often had with his guests as well as personalities who weren’t yet in the chair in front of him, David Letterman was always quite the hit. “Letterman puts on a show. He presents fully-rounded entertainment, and he feeds off the energy in the room,” is what Seth Stevenson had to say after attending one of the last tapings of the show, showcasing just why David was so loved by the audience, at the show as well as back home.

The Oprah Winfrey Show

The show that made Oprah Winfrey a household name around the world and the motherly figure that every oppressed woman could look up to, The Oprah Winfrey Show aired for 4,561 episodes across 25 seasons and was labeled as one of the longest-running daytime TV talk shows in entertainment history. Of course, thanks to all things Oprah Winfrey, the show was a lot more than that. In addition to the giveaways that had audiences returning home with anything from cars to cash prizes, the show was well-known for putting a human face to stories that otherwise made for saucy headlines. Always one to dig in deeper and find reason even in the most obnoxious of details that were selling like hot cakes outside, Oprah was often seen as the confidant every celebrity could open up their hearts to, and she embraced them just as lovingly too. One of those rare shows that do more than just entertain, The Oprah Winfrey Show remains a lesson in how even television talk shows can touch the lives of millions around the world, giving them hope and strength through stories of struggles and losses.

The Arsenio Hall Show

Actor, comedian, writer, producer, and of course, the talk show host behind The Arsenio Hall Show, Arsenio Hall may have had a shorter run on the talk show circuit than most other shows on this list but the run sure was an impactful one in many ways. We are referring to the relatively short period of 6 seasons and 1,406 episodes that aired, although these numbers pale in comparison only to the other stalwarts in this list. Of course, the return to the circuit was a lot more disastrous, with the show being canceled after only one season, but again, that doesn’t take away anything from what Arsenio managed to accomplish for him as well as others in the entertainment business. One of those shows that peaks too soon and then fails to take off on the success and popularity, The Arsenio Hall Show, while it lasted was a toast to the MTV Generation and appealed to the nightlife instincts of the audiences, bringing to them themes that related to the nightlife outside and brought on guests who were either a part of this brigade or were somehow connected to it. While it lasted, the show was an impressive one indeed!

The Daily Show

Different generations have known The Daily Show by three distinct names — The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah — and while the argument about which of these shows was better than the others is a neverending one, the one thing that binds us all is the opinion that indeed, The Daily Show is one of the finest we have seen in television history. A late-night talk show that is heavily bent on political satire and dissecting the news in the most interesting and insightful ways for the audience, with, of course, loads of humor, The Daily Show has been part of the staple diet for many ever since it first hit the television circuit in 1996. Back then, it was hosted by Craig Kilborn, who was known for showcasing his version of the show as one that was more dedicated to pop culture happenings. When Jon Stewart took over in 1999, the show began dedicating itself more and more to all things satirical but related to politics and news, and at several points during his 16 years on air, Jon Stewart was regarded as the one person to listen to when it came to brave and unwavering opinions. And then, it was Trevor Noah’s turn to take over, and this young lad has been doing an equally impressive job. Despite having some pretty big shoes to fill — there were many who believed that the show would tank after Jon Stewart bid goodbye — Trevor not only proved to be the perfect anchor to this mighty ship but also brought his own style to the chair, making it his own brand over the years.

Just This List Adds Upto Thousands of Hours of Talking on Television!

Phew! All that talk about talk shows sure has us exhausted! We wonder how these hosts do it for so many seasons and hundreds of episodes! Well, all kidding aside, talk shows are quite a different kind of entertainment. Here, even when you have writers writing out your monologs and jokes for you, eventually it is just you and your charm working their way into the hearts and minds of guests and audiences, and there’s little anyone else can help you with there. This is why some hosts are more popular than others and it is a well-known and accepted fact that while everyone does aim to make it into the guest’s chair on several talk shows, not everyone can handle the host’s chair, for that does indeed take a special kind of skill!David LettermanArsenio HallBill Maher has taken no sides in particularequally impressive jobTrevor Noah

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