Answer: I think that the best American late night talk show for learning English is whichever one you enjoy the most.
I don’t watch television very much but I do really like talk shows. In the USA there are daytime talk shows and “late night” talk shows. Daytime talk shows are mostly made for women, because women are the biggest audience in the daytime. Late night talk show are the ones that are on TV after 11:00pm, after the kids have gone to sleep. So adults are the main audience for the late night shows.
In the evening before 11pm the audience is all ages, so there are a lot of “sitcoms” and other shows for the whole family to watch. After 10 or 11pm the shows on TV can be a little more “racy”. They can have some adult language that would be too offensive for kids.
The biggest talk show star of them all is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is more than a talk show or a talk show host, she is a major star, one of the most powerful women on Earth, and a friend of Barak Obama too. Whatever new book or singer or diet program that Oprah talks about on her show will suddenly become a hit, just because she mentioned it.
Another daytime talk show that I like is the Ellen Degeneres show. She’s really funny.
The two big late night shows are David Letterman and Jay Leno. Letterman is in New York and Leno is in Hollywood, California. I prefer Letterman, but Leno is the only one that we get on cable TV here in Vietnam, so I watch Leno regularly.
Leno and Letterman are on first, at 11:30pm, and then after them there is a second group of shows. These include Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Craig Ferguson. I haven’t watched any of these shows- have you? How do you like them?
There is one talk show that I absolutely love, on the cable channel called Comedy Central: Jon Stewart. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is my favorite TV show of any kind. We don’t get Comedy Central on our cable TV here in Vietnam but fortunately you can watch whole episodes on the internet. The Daily Show is the only TV show that I watch regularly; I try not to miss an episode.
And a spin-off from The Daily Show, also on Comedy Central, is Stephen Colbert’s show. It’s also really funny but I don’t watch it regularly. (A “spin-off” is sort of like a child show: Stephen Colbert started as a short part of the Jon Stewart show, and he was so popular that then he got his own show.)
The Daily Show is brilliant but it’s quite advanced for English learners. He talks very fast, even for native speakers!
Here are some links to shows and stars I mentioned:
Watch Daily Show episodes online: www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes
Stephen Colbert: www.colbertnation.com
David Letterman: www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show
The Leno show: www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show
Oprah Winfrey: www.oprah.com
Ellen Degeneres: ellen.warnerbros.com