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Top 5 US Talk Shows

One of the best ways to stay on top of what's hot and happening in terms of movie and series releases is talk shows. While there is no shortage of talk shows in the US, I make it a point to catch a few on the regular.

Most talk shows usually interview people who come on to promote their movie or series release, which as a movie reviewer really comes in handy. The mix of guests also includes politicians and people from NGOs, comedians, musicians, and performers as well.

Breakup of the Guest Roster on Talk Shows

Shows such as The Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj with clear social impact will have their own list. Here we will cover the Top 5 US Talk Shows that deal mostly in entertainment.

Top 5 US Talk Shows

While there are plenty of good talk shows, these are the ones that are either known globally or ones I watch regularly.

1. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

One of the most storied talk shows in the US, The Tonight Show has had popular hosts ranging from Johnny Carson to the current day Jimmy Fallon doing a great job.

I have been following it since Jay Leno hosted it, followed by Conan O Brien, and the shows hosted by the overly energetic Jimmy Fallon.

Jay Leno had a nice casual vibe to his hosting, assailing everyone on the news with his jokes. In contrast, Conan's was more of a controlled chaos vibe. Jimmy Fallon is however like he is on Molly (Ecstasy Pill) all the time, excited to talk to every guest, do every small thing on the talk show, and more.

Fallon's basically a golden retriever in human form that interviews guests in between fits of excitement.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon keeps innovating with new segments vying for the audience's attention. They involve playing Pictionary with a twist using VR goggles, guessing the name of an unusual ingredient in Secret Ingredient, and finding the humor in oddly taken screenshots.

Special Segments

There are however regular segments as well such as Thank You Notes and Hashtags on X (formerly Twitter).

Thank You Notes is a recurring segment on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show where he writes thank you notes to odd things for which he is thankful. For example, he is thankful to the Earth for an earthquake for being a way to go from silent to vibrate mode.

In the case of a weighted blanket, he is thankful for the product for letting him sleep while feeling like he's being X-rayed at the dentist. As with most bits, the Thank You Notes segment is a joke delivery device that entertains the audience.

Secret Ingredient is one of my favorite non-repeating segments on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon where people taste conventional dishes with a surprise ingredient. It's not often that you see someone counter Gordon Ramsay's sass with a great quip, and Jimmy does it without missing a beat.

There is a shock value element to this segment along with an in-built gross-out comedy factor that makes you laugh at the drop of a spoon.

Screengrabs is a segment that is quite reminiscent of Jay Leno's headlines where instead of newspaper cuttings, Fallon reads out unusual screenshots that are funny and entertaining.

2. Late Night with Seth Meyers

This talk host hosted by Seth Meyers is super casual and funny, with Seth favoring actors and comedians over other guests. I like how Seth is friends with Andy Samberg and most of the SNL cast which makes this show highly entertaining with cameos from SNL.

Special Segments

The Kind of Story We Need Right Now: news stories that leave you feeling good about what is being reported. Most stories involve people overcoming terrible situations with grit and courage such as the grandma who beat up a robber or the grandma who killed a bobcat with her bare hands in silence not to wake her grandchild.

One of the more self-aware bits on this show is CORRECTIONS where Seth Meyers reads out audience queries about mistakes on the show. Most of the time when the audience is being unreasonably nitpicky, Seth calls them "Jackals" whilst simultaneously dissing most of his writers for bad jokes.

Being one of the more earnest parts of this show, it is worth watching for Seth's obsession with Werner Herzogz's impressions and the writer's disses.

Seth Meyers and Guest Go Day Drinking is a fun segment as the guest and host both get drunk leading to eventual chaos. This segment depends a lot on the chemistry that Seth shares with the guests and if they click while drinking.

Otherwise, the segment becomes an awkward drunken mess that gives you secondhand cringe.

3. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is a slightly quirky show with a host who is offbeat and friendly in a natural way. Every once in a while Cobert's age shows up on the screen with him struggling to appear with it and on-trend. His interviews are mostly entertaining but there are probably other talk shows that are more insightful, entertaining, and a lot of other things.

Special Segments

My favorite segment is Meanwhile where Stephen dives into strange and unusual news worldwide that is disproportionately funny, surprising, and highly entertaining. Another segment that is the same as this, but with a future tech theme is called Cyborgasm.

The Colbert Questionnaire on the other hand is over-hyped and is not remarkable in any way except that it makes some of the guests awkward at times. Another section that is only marginally better but watchable is 'First Draft' where Colbert calls his wife for an assist and reads out the re-imagined before and existing after of many greeting cards.

The guest cameos in the band of this show are pretty good with well-known names in the music industry showing up to play with the Late Show band.

4. The Daily Show

I started following this show only after Trevor Noah took over hosting after Jon Stewart. The show is edgy, has quite a bit of the host's personality, and covers more social issues than the average talk show in the US.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Trevor talks about the hardships he faced living in poverty in Africa, using bricks as toy cars. He used to ensure that he asked the tough questions to guests while maintaining a modicum of decorum.

As of now, Jon Stewart has returned to be the weekly host of The Daily Show to help stabilize the show until the next host arrives. Considering the number of white male hosts that exist on the roster of US talk shows, I find it redundant to watch this show.

I think that having various segment hosts such as Desi Lydic, Ronnie Chieng, Dulce Sloan and Jordan Klepper keeps things fresh for the audience. But on the other end of the opinion spectrum, I think such a bevy of hosts for one show changing frequently will be confusing and even disconcerting to a few viewers at least.

5. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Reading Noam Chomsky's books about The USA has probably eaten into the joy I derive from John Oliver taking a bite out of things not quite right in the US.

But still, it is really enjoyable to see the bespectacled Brit addressing serious issues and taking down major institutions and practices ( within reason ) to make a point.

Last Week Tonight is in one sense a little better than the other talk shows in that, it raises awareness about issues that concern society as a whole - not all the time but most times. Of course, short parody segments cover out-of-context topics like Air Bud (the movie) and Octopuses that are purely for entertainment.

Although most of the time it covers meaningful issues such as the Drug Epidemic, Endowment Funds, and so on.

Wrapping Up

If you want to stay on top of the news, movies, and series releases while being entertained, you can watch any of these US talk shows and catch up on things. My personal favorite is The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Last Week Tonight as they entertain and inform simultaneously.

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