Ever since Johnny Carson established the formula, every late night comedian with a talk show has been trying to emulate his success. Each one has their own style but most of the shows consist of a humorous opening monologue and a couple of interviews with well-known celebrities. The jokes and the interviews are important, but if the personality of the host does not connect with audiences, they will not be popular. The reason why Johnny Carson was so popular was because people liked his personality. It doesn’t matter how good your jokes are if you are not likable.

Here are my top ten favorite late night comedians along with the strength of their monologues, their interviews, their personality, and their overall sense of humor.

10. James Corden (The Late Late Show)

Monologue: pretty good

Interviews: okay but not very serious

Personality: fun but juvenile

Sense of Humor: good

Pros: he is one of the best at performing sketches because he is one of the few late night talk show hosts with a serious acting background. Some of the funniest jokes on The Late Late Show are the sketches, field pieces and Carpool Karaoke segments.

Cons: he has the enthusiastic and mischievous nature of a ten-year old, which doesn’t always translate well into sophisticated humor.

9. Seth Meyers (Late Night)

Monologue: weak

Interviews: strong

Personality: smart ass

Sense of humor: inconsistent

Pros: Meyers is at his best when he plays off of other people. That’s why his interviews are so good. He knows how to be serious, but is also a very quick and clever improviser if he wants to get a laugh when something doesn’t go as planned, same as Johnny Carson.

Cons: not a good actor, so sketches are usually excruciating to watch. A lot of his jokes lack punch and come off lazily put together by someone trying to say what he thinks people will find funny rather than what is actually funny.

8. Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report, The Late Show)

Monologue: very good

Interviews: hard-hitting but terrible people skills

Personality: wacky

Sense of humor: sometimes too odd but when political, very strong

Pros: when Colbert tackles serious subject matter like politics, the Daily Show alum is at his strongest. One of the most fearless mainstream comedians when it comes to topics from which to mine humor.

Cons: some of his wackier jokes tend to come off self-satisfying and simply unfunny. Terrible at interviewing people because he comes off self-obsessed and reluctant to share the spotlight with anyone else. He refuses to be himself on camera and always seems to be in character, which can be tedious to watch.

7. Jimmy Fallon (Late Night, The Tonight Show)

Monologue: too formulaic

Interviews: too fanboyish

Personality: excellent

Sense of humor: sharp

Pros: easily the most likable comedian in late night. The SNL alum is an excellent performer and improviser and his talk show’s sketches tend to be the funniest.

Cons: many of his jokes are lightweight and his interviews are absolute disappointments if you are expecting serious discussions.

6. Conan O’Brien (Late Night, The Tonight Show, Conan)

Monologue: good

Interviews: good

Personality: court jester

Sense of humor: wacky

Pros: Conan is an SNL and Simpsons writer from the Harvard Lampoon school of humor so his jokes are always sharp.

Cons: his brand of humor tends to connect more with younger audiences, which made The Tonight Show a poor fit for his style.

5. Bill Maher (Politically Incorrect, Real Time)

Monologue: great

Interviews: smart

Personality: brutally honest but very smart-alecky

Sense of humor: venomous

Pros: Maher is extremely political in every aspect of his talk show and I am a very political person so I probably enjoy his show the most of all the talk shows on this list. I lean left politically so he tends to say what I think numerous times.

Cons: outspokenness sometimes gets him in trouble. Even though I agree with his views he is not very likable.

4. John Oliver (The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight)

Monologue: very well done

Personality: neurotic

Sense of humor: sharp

Pros: Oliver always devotes a lot of his time to going into one subject and researching the hell out of it. His one-man 15-20 minute monologues are the most informative and hilarious in late night.

Cons: anytime he deviates from topical humor his weakness shows.

3. Jon Stewart (The Daily Show)

Monologue: very well done

Interviews: smart

Personality: neurotic

Sense of humor: razor sharp

The most likable of all the political comedians. Whenever Jon Stewart targets someone or something he disagrees with, he can point out the flaws with hilarious accuracy.

2. Craig Ferguson (The Late Late Show)

Monologue: oddball

Interviews: friendly and smart

Personality: angry

Sense of humor: very NSFW

One of my favorite comedians of all time, up there with Robin Williams and Chris Rock. His blend of manic exasperation, rage-filled rants and Monty Python-esque silliness made The Late Late Show one of my top ten favorite TV series of all time even though it is probably the least popular of all the talk shows on this list.

1. David Letterman (Late Night, The Late Show)

Monologue: intelligent

Interviews: serious

Personality: low-key

Sense of humor: wacky

The king of late night comedy is definitely David Letterman. Other late night comedians have big personalities but Letterman seems like someone who would live next door. His normal nature is his biggest asset and it kept his show grounded in such a way that when his trademark wacky sense of humor showed up in a sketch, a field piece or a monologue joke, the contrast with his own serious image was enough to create comedy gold. Whenever I watched his show it appeared as though he didn’t force humor into a situation as much as he acted serious and exposed the humor when it showed up. When he left late night in 2015, he left a gap that has yet to be filled.