The 10 Best Celebrity Talk Shows of All Time

Celebrity Talk Shows - Ellen DeGeneres

Amidst the endless overflow of content that consumes us daily on social media, indulging in celebrity talk shows provides a welcome reprieve from the monotonous and unimportant content that often occupies our attention. There are instances when I find myself engrossed in back-to-back episodes of Graham Norton’s show, where I get genuine amusement from the antics of the celebrities I hold in high regard.

Whether it’s the rousing sensation of watching Tom Hiddleston groove to Boney M.’s “Rasputin” or the deep wisdom shared by Jim Carrey about how a near-death experience can dramatically alter one’s perspective on life, these moments serve as a source of joy and enlightenment. These talk shows offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these fantastic people, effectively humanizing them and making us realize their flawed characters.

The initial foray into television talk shows dates back to 1951, hosted by Joe Franklin, an American radio and television star. Subsequently, NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” which premiered in 1954, earned the distinction of being the world’s longest-running talk show.

Celebrity talk shows have rapidly cemented their position as a pivotal part of the entertainment panorama. Whether it’s the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” or “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” each episode presents an opportunity to witness these personalities in their unguarded, playful state, discussing their experiences as actors and individuals. They also discuss their forthcoming projects or the pivotal roles that shape their careers, making their allure all the more mesmerizing.

From actors to musicians, artists to politicians, these talk shows bring together a meticulously curated format that seamlessly incorporates engaging conversations on current events with anecdotes to forge a connection between celebrities and their ardent admirers.

With that said, this article comprises the Top 10 Celebrity Talk Shows that you should definitely check out.

1. Inside the Actors Studio

Best Celebrity Talk Shows of all Time - Inside the Actors Studio

Hosted by James Lipton, “Inside the Actors Studio” aired from 1994 to 2018, offering an insightful exploration of the art of acting. The show featured in-depth interviews with renowned actors, including Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, and Anthony Hopkins.

These interviews turned the conversation deeply about their craft, experiences, and personal journeys. These conversations beat typical talk show discussions, with each episode focused on a single accomplished celebrity guest who discussed their career, acting techniques, and sources of inspiration.

Well-known for revealing insights into the inner workings of the entertainment industry, this Emmy Award-winning series balanced serious and reflective discussions with moments of humor.

James Lipton’s respectful and thoughtful approach often led to lighthearted exchanges with guests, creating a nuanced tone that seamlessly encompassed depth and fun.

Spanning over two decades, the show featured more than 250 artists who offered an invaluable glimpse into their creative minds allowing cinephiles and fans to gain better insights into the filmmaking process and the art of acting.

From personal approaches to owning characters in a film to the intricacies of acting techniques, the show offered a treasure trove of knowledge for anyone interested in the world of acting and filmmaking.

2. The Graham Norton Show

Best Celebrity Talk Shows - The Graham Norton Show

One of my favorites is the British talk show hosted by Graham Norton, which gained massive popularity because of its candid chit-chats with celebrity guests.

The show invites a group of dynamic people who indulge in spontaneous interactions, playful banter, and unexpected comedic moments. The show has welcomed Hollywood actors Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Downey Jr., and Henry Cavill, to name a few.

Musicians like Nicky Minaj and Rihanna, now turned actors – Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift have also graced the show giving us humorous and embarrassing glimpses at their life having interactions with fans.

With quick wit, cheeky remarks, and light-hearted banter, Graham Norton’s comedic sensibilities contribute to the show’s atmosphere, and his ability to create a relaxed and enjoyable environment helps guests open up and share amusing anecdotes.

The casual setting, combined with Graham Norton’s hosting skills that include offering guests their favorite drinks and cocktails, gives more freeway for engaging and tear-filled funny conversations.

The BBC show has been airing since 2007 and continues to entertain its audiences with numerous memorable episodes in its kitty. Often featuring combinations of guests with unexpected chemistry, the show occasionally features live musical performances by various artists.

One of the highest watched Graham Norton episodes includes Snoop Dogg sharing the moment when Pharrell William advised him to make family-friendly music, Patrick Stewart sharing an incident where he learned that he is not circumcised, Ryan Gosling’s earliest moment to stardom competing with two obnoxious female competitors, Henry Cavill’s videogame addiction among many other hilarious moments shared by the celebrities on the couch in the Graham Norton’s show.

3. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” is widely regarded as one of television’s most iconic late-night talk shows. The show was hosted by Johnny Carson and aired for an impressive 30 years, from October 1962 to May 1992.

During this time, it became a staple of American late-night television, influencing subsequent talk show hosts and shaping how late-night shows are conducted. The show, known for its legendary celebrity interviews, showcased Carson’s skill in engaging with guests from various fields.

Featuring an array of important figures from entertainment, politics, sports, and culture, the memorable guests included: comedians like Robin Williams and George Carlin, actors like Bette Davis and Elizabeth Taylor, and musicians like Frank Sinatra and B.B. King.

Carson was celebrated for his perfect comedic timing and sharp wit, including humorous and clever wordplay, observational comedy, and playful banter with guests.

Carson’s monologues and skits, such as the famous “Carnac the Magnificent” segments, were a testament to his comedic genius. His ability to make guests feel at ease led to candid and entertaining conversations. The show’s various sketches and recurring characters added an element of originality. Carson’s departure from the show marked the end of an era, as his legacy impacted the late-night talk show format.

4. The Oprah Winfrey Show

Best Celebrity Talk Shows - The Oprah Winfrey Show

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” is a transformative and influential talk show that created a platform for meaningful conversations, self-discovery, and inspiring stories. Oprah’s show was known for its emotional depth and authenticity, engaging in conversations that dig into various topics, including personal struggles, societal issues, and human triumphs.

The show often featured discussions about self-improvement, relationships, health, and philanthropy. It attracted too many notable celebrities who engaged in candid conversations, including interviews with Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Barack Obama, Madonna, and Whitney Houston.

While the show wasn’t primarily humor-driven, Oprah’s warm and relatable personality often brought moments of lightheartedness and laughter. The humor was genuine and built on her connection with the audience.

Considered to have brought a massive impact on people’s lives, Oprah’s ability to create a safe space for vulnerability allowed guests to open up about their experiences led to healing conversations.

The show’s “Book Club” segment and Oprah’s philanthropic efforts further solidified her influence. The show had an impressive run for 25 years, from September 1986 to May 2011, allowing it to become a cultural touchstone, influencing both daytime television and the broader media landscape.

Some of the most watched episodes include Oprah’s interviews with the Jackson family, the Tom Cruise couch-jumping episode, and episodes focused on weight loss and self-improvement. Leaving a huge mark in television history, Oprah’s ability to connect with her guests and viewers contributed to the show’s enduring legacy as a source of inspiration and empowerment.

5. The Late Show with David Letterman

Late Night Show with David Letterman

Hosted by David Letterman, the show’s precise blend of irreverent humor, unconventional interviews, and innovative segments made it a standout in the late-night landscape. David Letterman has been known for his unique humor, which often included sarcasm, self-deprecating jokes, and a playful irreverence towards celebrities, politics, and pop culture.

His monologues and “Top Ten” lists became iconic segments that showcased his witty and satirical style. Letterman’s interviewing style was characterized by his curiosity, spontaneity, and willingness to engage in unconventional conversations, often pushing boundaries with guests, leading to memorable and unexpected moments.

Guests willing to play along with Letterman’s antics often made the highlights, such as Joaquin Phoenix’s quirky appearance. The show hosted actors, musicians, comedians, and politicians, including standout interviews of Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Bill Murray, Howard Stern, and Barack Obama.

The show’s format allowed for more candid and relaxed conversations than traditional interviews. Considered one of the best late-night celebrity talk shows due to its new approach to comedy and interviews, Letterman’s ability to challenge the norms of late-night TV while maintaining a loyal fan base contributed to its lasting impact.

The show aired for 22 years, from August 1993 to May 2015, becoming a fixture in the late-night genre, making it a favorite among its viewers.

6. The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Celebrity Talk Shows - Ellen DeGeneres

The daytime talk show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres is particularly famous for its friendly and inviting atmosphere. Ellen brought a warm and approachable charisma to her show, creating an environment where guests and audience members felt comfortable and welcome. Her genuine interest in people’s stories and her ability to connect personally contributed to the show’s popularity.

From hosting actors, musicians, comedians, and public figures, the show’s memorable guests who made highlights include Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston, and Taylor Swift.

Ellen’s humor was characterized by its light-heartedness, playfulness, and occasional pranks. The show featured segments like “Ellen’s Game of Games” and the famous “Hidden Camera Pranks,” which showcased her ability to create moments of laughter and entertainment.

The show was considered one of the best due to Ellen DeGeneres’ relatable style and her commitment to promoting positivity and kindness through her philanthropic efforts.

Aired for 19 seasons, from September 2003 to May 2022, some of the most-watched episodes included Ellen’s emotional coming-out interview in 1997, her interviews with prominent guests like Michelle Obama, and episodes featuring heartwarming stories of everyday people. Ellen DeGeneres’ show stood out for its positive messaging, inclusivity, and ability to provide entertainment and inspiration.

7. Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Conan O’Brien’s witty humor, quirky sketches, and distinct comedic style made the late-night talk show a standout. Its intellectual humor and absurdity marked O’Brien’s comedic style and often featured offbeat sketches, recurring characters, and segments that showcased Conan’s comedy stunts.

The show hosted Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, Robin Williams, and many others engaging in humorous and playful interactions.

Conan’s monologues were filled with clever observations, and the show’s sketches often pushed the boundaries of traditional late-night comedy stints.

His ability to embrace unconventional humor earned the show’s audience lasting popularity. Aired for 16 years, from September 1993 to February 2009, some of the most memorable episodes included Conan’s various remote segments, where he engaged with people and explored different locations.

The episode where he visited Finland and interacted with the locals and his visits to comic conventions are often highlighted by fans. The Max Weinberg 7, led by Max Weinberg, served as the house band for the show providing live music, adding to the show’s energetic atmosphere.

8. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Celebrity Talk Shows - Jimmy Fallon

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which first premiered in 2014, brings forth an energetic atmosphere filled with interactive games and emphasis on music, bringing a refreshing twist to the late-night talk format.

Fallon, widely famous for his high-energy hosting style, has often involved his celebrity guest with playful games and comedy sketches.

The show’s unique segments, like “Lip Sync Battle” – an idea introduced by Stephen Merchant and John Krasinski where guests like Tom Cruise, Emma Stone, Tom Holland, and Zendaya have crushed with their respective lip sync performances, make it stand out. 

The show’s strong focus on music, with live performances by The Roots, the house band led by Questlove, has had several guests contributing their hidden musical talent with an impromptu performance.

Celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Ryan Reynolds, David Blaine, and many more have made their appearances indulging with Fallon’s light-hearted, spontaneous conversations.

Jimmy Fallon’s natural comedic timing and willingness to participate in humorous antics with his guests have always created an enjoyable and entertaining experience.

Winning 2022’s best talk/topical show award at MTV Movie + TV Awards, the show is often praised for its ability to appeal to a younger demographic and inject a fresh and contemporary vibe into the late-night talk genre.

Some of the most-watched episodes include Jimmy Fallon’s lip-sync battle with Paul Rudd, Wheel of Musical Impressions with Christina Aguilera,  a surprising ‘could have been together’ tale by Nicole Kidman when Jimmy Fallon Blew a Chance to Date, the legendary actress.

9. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Satirical news program hosted by Jon Stewart aired from 1999 to 2015, instantly gaining a loyal following for its sharp commentary on current events, humorous take on politics, and insightful celebrity interviews.

The show’s central focus was satirizing and dissecting current news, politics, and societal issues. Jon gave witty and intelligent commentary on global events, often highlighting absurdities and contradictions within the media and political landscape.

While “The Daily Show” was primarily known for its coverage of news and politics, it did feature celebrity guests who engaged in conversations about their projects and broader cultural topics.

Some notable celebrity interviews include appearances by actors, authors, musicians, and public figures such as Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Jon Hamm, and Malala Yousafzai.

The show used a blend of political satire, irony, parody, and self-aware humor, with Jon Stewart engaging his audience with comedic sketches, satirical monologues, and cleverly edited clips to illustrate real-world absurdities.

Some of the most-watched episodes included Jon Stewart’s interviews with influential political figures, his analysis of major news events, and his coverage of presidential elections.

10. Chelsea Lately

Airing from 2007 to 2014, “Chelsea Lately” was a late-night talk show hosted by Chelsea Handler, notable for its irreverent humor and candid interviews.

Chelsea Handler’s unfiltered comedic tone set a benchmark for the show as she fearlessly talked about taboo subjects, made bold statements, and engaged in candid conversations with guests.

The show set a relaxed atmosphere for guests, from Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Charlize Theron to the Kardashian family.

Well-known for its edgy humor, sarcasm, and Chelsea’s inclination to poke fun at both celebrities and herself, the show also featured roundtable discussions.

Chelsea and her panelists humorously dissected current events and pop culture during these discussions. Known for her fierce personality, Chelsea Handler adeptly addressed sensitive topics while maintaining a lighthearted and engaging tone.

While primarily focused on interviews and discussions, “Chelsea Lately” occasionally showcased musical performances by various artists.

One of the most-watched episodes was Lindsay Lohan’s post-rehab publicity appearance, which garnered a whopping 890,000 viewers. The show followed a half-hour format, starting with a brief stand-up monologue and a roundtable panel featuring three guests, often a mix of comedians, actors, or staff members.

Later, the late-night talk show produced specials and spin-offs – offering the fans more fun interactions with their celebrity guests.

Deepshikha Deb

Quit my job to watch movies with my husband and occasionally write about it. I am also a social media and momo tasting expert, who loves Masala Dosa and Tilda Swinton.