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Quotes From Late-Night TV's Funniest Hosts

Late-night talk shows have been a hub of American entertainment since first debuting in the late 1940s. Night after night, decade after decade, we’ve welcomed these shows — and their hosts — into our homes. More than just mouthpieces for funny punchlines, late-night hosts have become influential voices whom many look to for comfort and clarification. They drive conversations on politics, pop culture, and current events, and through their acerbic humor and satirical commentary, have helped shape modern comedy while becoming household names and cultural icons.

Of course, late-night TV isn’t all fun and games. It often also serves as a cultural barometer, reflecting the larger societal moods and concerns at any given moment in time. Through their monologues and interviews, talk show hosts create a shared sense of experience and provide familiarity. From trailblazers such as Johnny Carson and Steve Allen, who paved the way with their quick wit and charm, to contemporary torchbearers such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, who disarm guests and viewers with relatable ease, late-night hosts have weaved their way into the fabric of American life.

The following quotes from some of the all-time funniest late-night hosts include a few of the witty quips they’re best known for as well as insights and perspective on the beauty and complexity of the human experience.

I would say laughter is the best medicine. But it’s more than that. It’s an entire regime of antibiotics and steroids.
Stephen Colbert

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There's only one requirement of any of us, and that is to be courageous. Because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior.
David Letterman

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I don't believe that lack of intelligence and appreciation for lowbrow comedy go hand in hand necessarily.
Jimmy Kimmel

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It's that special time of year where we voluntarily imbibe pumpkin spice lattes, the coffee that tastes like a candle.
John Oliver

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I'm very much about letting other people shine, because it makes us all shine brighter.
Chelsea Handler

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So important is laughter to us that humanity highly rewards members of one of the most unusual professions on earth, those who make a living by inducing laughter in others. This is very strange if you stop to think of it.
Steve Allen

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If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself. And if you like yourself, you'll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.
Johnny Carson

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Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.
Conan O'Brien

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Looking 50 is great — if you're 60.
Joan Rivers

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Don't keep reaching for the stars, because you'll just look like an idiot, stretching like that for no reason.
Jimmy Fallon

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If there's one thing more annoying to a performer than being recognized on the street, it's NOT being recognized.
Jack Parr

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Here's something to think about: How come you never see a headline like “Psychic Wins Lottery”
Jay Leno

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You just have to keep trying to do good work, and hope that it leads to more good work. I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work, and be proud that I tried everything. Yes, I want to look back and know that I was terrible at a variety of things.
Jon Stewart

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The difference between doing something and not doing something is doing something.
James Corden

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Featured image credit: John Lamparski/ Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Nicole Villeneuve
Nicole is a writer, thrift store lover, and group-chat meme spammer based in Ontario, Canada.
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