The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Watch: Monday-Thursday, 11 p.m., Comedy Central
Comedic style: Noah is the most laid-back of Stewart’s successors, and as the current host of Stewart’s former show, he also provides the greatest contrast to his predecessor. His jokes are often more silly than wonky, relying as much on goofy premises as social commentary.
Political perspective: The South African comedian is always more bemused than outraged at the current state of politics, and his even keel and winning smile can soften the power of even a fairly vehement takedown.
Guest interactions: Noah has improved his interview skills a bit since his show debuted last fall, but he still doesn’t have the gravitas of Stewart, and is better at superficial celebrity gab than serious political discussions.
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
Watch: Monday-Thursday, 11:31 p.m., Comedy Central
Comedic style: The oldest of Stewart’s successors, Wilmore has a world-weary, seen-it-all perspective that might allow him to get away with bolder, potentially more shocking jokes.
Political perspective: Wilmore remains a staunch advocate for the black community and people of color, never backing away from his support but also never hesitating to criticize if he finds it justified.
Guest interactions: Wilmore has trimmed the panel-discussion segment that was the centerpiece of his show when it premiered early last year, reducing the number of panelists and focusing on a single guest in a way that allows each voice to come through more clearly.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Watch: Sundays, 11 p.m., HBO
Comedic style: Since his time on The Daily Show, Oliver has become less interested in making jokes and more interested in making points, and his show often features jokes only as random asides inserted into his dense, heavily researched news stories.
Political perspective: Oliver is by far the most serious, news-oriented host on this list, devoting the main segment of each episode to a detailed, in-depth report. He is known for taking on conventional wisdom and targeting seemingly innocuous institutions, which can be fascinating or a bit tedious, depending on the subject.
Guest interactions: Oliver’s intense focus on current issues doesn’t allow for guests or correspondents, although he does make decent use of occasional celebrity cameos.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Watch: Monday-Friday, 11:35 p.m., CBS
Comedic style: Following his 10 seasons as a parody of a right-wing pundit on The Colbert Report, Colbert has embraced his position as the host of a traditional late-night talk show, with plenty of corny segments that could interchangeably be presented by the Jimmys, Fallon or Kimmel.
Political perspective: Colbert does still take on politics, but he does so with more of a light, jokey tone than the cutting satire he practiced on The Colbert Report. His humor here is much less polarizing, but also less distinctive.
Guest interactions: One of Colbert’s great strengths is his ability to shoot the breeze with a wide range of celebrities, while still coming off as intelligent and thoughtful.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Watch: Mondays, 10:30 p.m., TBS
Comedic style: One of only two women in late-night, Bee is acerbic and outraged, with a unique perspective honed during her time on The Daily Show. She’s the best of her peers at integrating equal amounts of humor and substance.
Political perspective: Bee is an outspoken feminist and offers a much-needed counterpoint to her overwhelmingly male colleagues, and she doesn’t hesitate to express her contempt for politicians whose views she opposes.
Guest interactions: The TBS budget doesn’t seem to allow for correspondents, and Bee doesn’t devote any of her limited time to guest interviews.
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