Memorable Moments From Talk Show History

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Memorable Moments From Talk Show History

Since their invention, talk shows have been a mainstay of television. They occupy a unique place in American culture, bringing people together to share stories, experiences and just plain old laughs. It’s little wonder, then, that some of these moments have become part of television history. Here are some of the most memorable talk show moments ever.

Steve Allen Introducing The Audience ‘Clap-In’

It was 1957, and comedian Steve Allen had just taken over the Tonight Show hosting slot. Knowing that he wanted the show to stand out from the glut of other programs, he introduced the world to a wholly new concept. The clap-in.

The idea was simple: Allen would come out into the audience during the opening monologue, thanking and applauding each of the viewers. This helped to make the audience feel like part of the show.

The Oprah Winfrey Show on Race

It’s impossible to talk about memorable talk show moments without mentioning Oprah Winfrey. One of her most powerful shows was a 1987 episode titled “Race in America.” On that show, Oprah addressed the issue of racism and its impact on American society. She featured a panel of guests, including prominent figures such as Maya Angelou.

The discussion ranged from discussions of white privilege to the ongoing debates over affirmative action. It was a powerful and captivating conversation, one that showed how serious talk shows could be.

David Letterman’s Lonely ‘Top Ten List’

It’s the moment that some would say has become an indelible part of television history. On a 1980 episode of Late Night with David Letterman, the host introduced his Top Ten List for the first time.

The list, which often featured clever one-liners and puns, helped cement Letterman’s place in television history. He would also often leave the audience in stitches, thanks to some classic self-deprecating jokes.

The Larry Sanders Show on Santa

It was the episode that cemented The Larry Sanders Show as one of the late 1990s’ most talk shows. On the 1997 episode “Santa on the Lam”, host Larry Sanders (played by Garry Shandling) is visited by a criminal on the run, named Santa, who tells him he just wants to talk.

The conversation that followed was hilarious, with Larry and Santa trading barbs and making clever jokes. The show gained a new level of cache, and Shandling’s comedic style was cemented.

Ice Cube on Arsenio Hall

The early 1990s weren’t just the era of gangsta rap, they were also the era of Arsenio Hall. On one of his most memorable shows, Hall featured rapper Ice Cube.

During the interview, Ice Cube and Hall got into a heated argument about the state of rap. It was intense, funny and captivating. The moment was also pivotal in paving the way for a new level of mainstream respect for rap and hip-hop.

Host Jimmy Fallon’s Musical Intro

It’s hard to forget the moment that made The Tonight Show a hit. When Jimmy Fallon took over in 2014, he introduced the world to some new musical styles. As part of his opening monologue, Fallon would riff on popular musical hits, linking them to news stories.

He also launched new segments, such as “Slow Jam the News” and “Thank You Notes.” Before long, Fallon had become a star in his own right and the show a hit.

John Oliver Pulls Out a Table

When John Oliver took over Last Week Tonight in 2014, many didn’t know what to expect. Yet it soon became clear that he was a force to be reckoned with, thanks in large part to his hilarious segments.

During one particularly memorable episode, Oliver pulled out a large table to discuss an ongoing political spat. He then proceeded to pull out slips of paper with guests’ names, inviting them to join him in a discussion.

The Moment Conan O’Brien Handed Over the Torch

Back in 2009, Conan O’Brien took over hosting duties on The Tonight Show. He chose to do something special for his first episode, inviting out late night pioneer Jay Leno for a “passing of the torch” moment.

It was a hilarious episode, and one that showed the audience that this new Tonight Show meant business. While Leno would eventually regain the hosting slot, it was the show’s new host that stole the night.

Stephen Colbert’s Predecessor Moment

No talk show moment was as powerful as Stephen Colbert’s first episode on The Colbert Report. He opened with a parody of his predecessor’s entrance, walking out to a raucous cheer from the audience.

This moment established Colbert as a worthy successor. It also set the tone for the show, which would go on to become a powerhouse of political satire.

Talk shows have a long and storied past. From The Tonight Show to Last Week Tonight, audiences around the world have experienced some unforgettable moments. Our list here is some of the most memorable of all time, from Steve Allen’s introduction of the audience clap-in to Stephen Colbert’s debut.

No matter what type of talk show you watch, make sure to check out some of these classic moments. You’ll be sure to laugh, cry and get inspired by some of the greatest talk show moments of all time.

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