Permanent guest host

From Academic Kids

Permanent guest host is an oxymoron that likely originated on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It is believed Penn and Teller were the first to declare the phrase to be a "rare triple oxymoron".



If a television talk show's regular host was away, either on vacation or while taking a day off, a "guest host" would appear as a substitute. The guest host would often frequently change. If one particular guest host came to be preferred, that person would be named "permanent" guest host. Joan Rivers and Jay Leno, who later became permanent host, started as guest hosts on The Tonight Show.


Much controversy arose over permanent guest hosts on the Tonight Show.

Joan Rivers

During the mid-1980's, Joan Rivers became the permanent guest host for Carson. After a few years in this role, Rivers left the show to pursue other opportunities, signing a deal with the FOX network to produce her own late night talk show, titled The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. The show received horrific ratings, and was cancelled quickly. Carson, angered by her betrayal, never talked to Rivers again.

Jay Leno/David Letterman

After Rivers left the show, a rotating group of guest hosts was reinstituted, but after a short while, the most promising comic of the bunch, Jay Leno, was chosen to become the permanent guest host. Leno served in this role until Carson retired in 1992. After Carson's retirement, NBC chose Leno to succeed Carson, in spite of a previous agreement with David Letterman, host of Late Night. Furiously, Letterman left the network in 1993 for CBS' Late Show.

Guest Hosts today

The role of guest hosts today is a very small one. None of the five of the major network TV late night shows (The Tonight Show, The Late Show, Late Night, The Late Late Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live) use guest hosts at all; rather, they utilize reruns.

In late 2004, between Craig Kilborn's departure and Craig Ferguson's hiring to CBS's Late Late Show, Late Late rotated through several guest hosts including Jim Rome, David Alan Grier, Ana Gasteyer, Drew Carey, Michael Ian Black, and Craig Ferguson.


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