It’s always during the summer that I find myself catching up on the shenanigans of talk show hosts. There’s something about balmy summer nights that screams for the comfort and panache of a late night emcee. It’s depressing when I can fry an egg on the sidewalk by myself, but when David Letterman does it on TV? Suddenly it’s a hilarious and life-affirming exercise.
Thus, we’re counting down the 10 hottest talk show hosts ever. It’s an especially happy occasion since four of the listed dudes are gay. Cue up Paul Shaffer, because this is a Top 10 list we can all applaud.
10. David Letterman
David Letterman is the elder statesman of the late night circuit, but his grimly dry delivery remains his untouchable hallmark. To this day, nothing is stranger or funnier than the idea of Stupid Human Tricks. If bastardly putdowns are your turn-on (hear, hear!), Letterman is your minx.
Hottest moments: Sweating bullets while Madonna peppered him with f-bombs and spare panties in ’94, mocking Paris Hilton’s jail routine in 2006.
The glorious Drag Race glamazon hosted one of VH1’s greatest series, his late ’90s talk show co-hosted by Michelle Visage. His conversation ease and simply amazing face make him the studliest thing ever to hit that network, even if he was usually clad in a gown and blonde banana curls.
Hottest moment: Enjoying a manicure with his guests Sandra Bernhard and Meredith Brooks
8. Wayne Brady
Dave Chappelle did he damnedest to paint Wayne Brady as a square, but Wayne Brady will always have something Chappelle doesn’t: multiple Emmys. On his eponymous talk show from the early 2000s, he often exercised musical, improvisational, and comic chops, sometimes simultaneously. He also is gorgeous. Don’t forget.
Hottest moment: Singing in a trio with Justin Timberlake and Brian McKnight. All three wore leather pants, because 2002 insisted.
7. Carson Daly
Carson Daly was once MTV’s deadpan figurehead, but as a late night talk show host on Last Call, he’s self-deprecating, amazing-looking, surprisingly warm. He’s also very smart and highly knowledgeable about music, which makes him more of a Dick Clark scion than many are willing to admit.
Hottest moment: After nearly a decade on the air, switching Last Call to an intimate, one-of-a-kind docuseries format. The conversational style is a perfect fit for Daly’s brand of casual sarcasm.
6. Dick Cavett
The Nebraska native often looked a little perplexed as glamorous weirdos like Janis Joplin, Bette Davis, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash graced his stage, but Dick Cavett always held his own with bemused wit. You can never underestimate the sinister appeal of the man who wrote the immortal introduction: “Here they are — Jayne Mansfield!”
Hottest moment: Snickering uncomfortably as Janis Joplin told him, “You’re a real swinger, man. I can tell by your shoes.”
5. Jimmy Fallon
He was the apple of head writer Tina Fey’s eye when he first appeared on Saturday Night Live, but Jimmy Fallon has really come into his own as a talk show host since beginning his late night tenure in 2009. His style is slick, but personable — just like his body! Sigh.
Hottest moment: Being awesome enough to play Password with guest Betty White.
4. Nate Berkus
Nate Berkus is a floppy-haired stud with the most unmistakable eyes in Oprah’s universe. He’s endured tragedy, recovered, and always remained deeply sincere, and that’s an anomaly among talk show hosts. You could talk this guy for hours. Hell, I did.
Hottest moment: One time he wore football pads with guest Holly Robinson-Peete. I don’t usually go for jock appeal. But man. I did that day. Woah.
3. Andy Cohen
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Andy Cohen is the Alexander the Great of cable, a gay guy in command who shows no sign of relinquishing his authority. Andy Cohen has a smart but nefarious appeal, and he’s able to have more fun with guests than sincerely every other talk show host on TV. All hail that sinister smile!
Hottest moment: Remaining cool even when when guests Regina King and Jackee threatened to overhaul the show with drunken power.
2. Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper’s blend of newsy seriousness and bitchy commentary is, frankly, pretty weird! The silvery stud’s stint in daytime may have been short-lived, but his rolled-sleeve accessibility was sexy and fun. He’s also the most beautiful man in any galaxy, so that helps.
Hottest moment: Gnawing on a magnificent phallic gummy worm with guest Andy Cohen
1. Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson is hailed as the king of the talk show format, but let him also be known as one of the most debonair, gorgeous emcees of all time. The man boasted serious matinee idol looks — think young Jimmy Stewart — and could sell any silly one-liner with an imaginary swing of his golf club. Hooray for extremely apparent innuendo.
Hottest moment: Fearing an attack from an animal expert’s panther, Carson ran across the stage and leapt into Ed McMahon’s arms.
Who’s your pick for sexiest talk show host ever?