A late-night talk show is a subgenre of the talk show genre. In American television at least, it is specifically a kind of comedy-oriented talk and variety show that airs late at night. Characteristics of the genre include topical monologues in which the host makes fun of the day's news, comedy sketches, celebrity interviews, and musical performances. The late-night talk show format was popularized, though not invented, by Johnny Carson with The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on NBC. Unlike other kinds of talk and variety shows, late-night talk shows always feature a desk, behind which the host sits to interview guests and present comedy bits. Most programs also have an old-fashioned prop microphone on the desk, which some hosts often use as a comedic device.
The popularity of late-night shows in the United States has been cited as a key factor why Americans do not get the requisite seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Late-night talk shows compete for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series.
Late-night talk shows, for the most part, are not as prominent in other parts of the world.