The 100 Best Late-Night Monologue Jokes from the 21st Century, As Selected by Late-Night Writers

The 100 Best Late-Night Monologue Jokes from the 21st Century, As Selected by Late-Night Writers

What a century for late night.

Sure, 20th-century comics architected the form, with Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson laying the foundation for the late-night talk show as we now know it. The opening run of topical jokes quickly became the load-bearing beam in the comic blueprint, and America tuned in nightly to see the events of the day summarized in punchlines. But Carson, the face most associated with the early days of late night, had a stranglehold on the business — he so dominated the ratings that no one even dared challenge his rule. Let’s just say that in the 21st century, a single guy riffing on the latest Congressional scandals and screw-ups wouldn’t be the norm. 

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By sheer volume alone, the number of late-night monologue jokes has exploded. By the 1990s, Carson had been replaced by Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien trading nightly gags. In the 2000s and beyond, they’ve been joined by Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Chelsea Handler, Jon Stewart, Craig Ferguson, Samantha Bee, Lilly Singh, Sarah Silverman, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin, Bill Maher, Colin Quinn, Michelle Wolf, Larry Wilmore, Norm Macdonald, Jordan Klepper, Jesus and Mero and John Oliver — and those are just the comics represented on this list. 

Sorting through all of those stand-up sets to glean the best late-night monologue jokes of the past 22 years and change is a pretty daunting task. That’s why we assembled a panel of actual late-night monologue writers to help us figure it out, including Guy Nicolucci (Late Night With Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show), Joe Toplyn (Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno), Dan Cronin (Late Night With Conan O’Brien), Berkley Johnson (Late Night with Conan O’Brien), Marvin Silbermintz (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno) and Brian Kiley (The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien). With their help, we sifted and winnowed — okay, it was probably more winnowing than sifting — through thousands of jokes to come up with our list of the very best of late-night laughs. 

Here are our favorite 100 from 2000 until today — we recommend reading this in bed right before you fall asleep, just to set the appropriate mood.

CRACKED Hosting The Tonight Show has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me-and I just want to say to all the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Robbers broke into the Gap over the weekend. The suspects are described as being armed and casual. DAVID LETTERMAN

CRACKED This week, a cologne company announced that they have partnered with Playboy to design a new fragrance for Playboy readers. Finally, a cologne that says Guess what ladies - I like to masturbate. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED The Price Is Right and my penis are very different, of course! One's been around for over 50 years but Drew Carey made it bigger than ever... CRAIG FERGUSON

CRACKED It would be what one economist called 'financial Armageddon.' That's bad news and even worse timing because America's already scheduled a plague Armageddon, a climate Armageddon and a democracy Armageddon. STEPHEN COLBERT

CRACKED  is now fifth in line to the British throne - right behind Harry Styles. But ahead of me, which is annoying. JAMES CORDEN

CRACKED Today, Popeye the Sailorman turns 80 years old. Young people love Popeye because he's covered in tattoos and has a plant-based diet. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED I read that an Arizona woman is accused of sending a man more than 159,000 texts after they went on one date. When asked why she did it, the woman was like, 'Why, did he ask about me?' JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED As you probably know by now, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years! That's right, eight years. You realize, the last time the Democrats had this much power in Congress, there were only two Transformer movies and Harvey Weinstein only looked like a creep. TREVOR NOAH

CRACKED As the panic grew, Facebook did not say what might be causing the outage. Now, I'm no computer expert, but my theory is a just god? STEPHEN COLBERT

CRACKED Last week, we learned that Clarence Thomas had secretly accepted luxury trips from right-wing billionaire Harlan Crow. And that's his actual name, not his Game of Thrones cosplay character. JORDAN KLEPPER

CRACKED Tucker Carlson has been fired by Fox, CNN, MSNBC and PBS. That's like the EGOT of cable news. JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED I took a tip from your history books, and, the day after election day, I got a truckload of Dr. Pepper and just drove it straight into Boston Harbor. See how you like your favorite beverage being drowned. JOHN OLIVER

CRACKED I just went through my first winter here in New York. A little cold for my taste but finally it's starting to warm up. Only two months until the city starts to smell like a hot diaper. LARRY WILMORE

CRACKED I don't know why it's called fixing the election that implies that an honest election is broken. It's the same thing when you start fixing your pets. Their genitals were working perfectly fine before you repaired them. CRAIG FERGUSON

CRACKED A new study found that hand dryers in bathrooms spread more germs than paper towels. And the makers of hand dryers said, 'But don't forget, we also don't dry your hands.' JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED Facebook unveiled a new feature called 'Nearby Friends' that broadcasts your location using your phone's GPS. It was originally called 'Murder Me Whenever' but they changed it for marketing purposes. JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED It's Jay Leno's last week ... and also the start of the Winter Olympics. Two things that happen every four years. DAVID LETTERMAN

CRACKED At a theme park in California, a man has been arrested because he hopped a fence, entered an animal exhibit, and punched a camel in the face. When asked why, the man just glared at the camel and said: 'He knows why.' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Student loan debt. It affects pretty much everyone I know, and if you're one of the ten people it doesn't affect, congratulations on being a Kennedy. HASAN MINHAJ

CRACKED If Trump and Kim Jong Un wanted to hug, how would that even work? Have you seen how their bodies are shaped? They both have that same gut that sticks like a foot out in front of them. They'd have to reach around like they're holding a giant bucket. MICHELLE WOLF

CRACKED Diego Maradona had to be held up during Argentina's national anthem, overcome with emotions and cocaine. DESUS AND MERO

CRACKED Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre said he's starting to look for a new career, either in coaching or in television. We at Sports Show have obtained a copy of his resume. Oh no, that's a picture of his (bleep). NORM MACDONALD

CRACKED You'd think the guy who fathered Eric and Don Jr. would know how to handle jokes, but I guess not. JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED I only know three things in life to be true: Baby corn should not be a thing. The word moist should never be used except next to the word towelette. And Bill Cosby knew what he was doing. LARRY WILMORE

CRACKED Khloe and Lamar is based on the two stars' lives. I watched the show, and I must say that it is a clever combination of basketball and a bunch of shit. NORM MACDONALD

CRACKED Director M. Night Shyamalan, whose movies are known for their surprise twist endings, is celebrating his 39th birthday today. OR... will it turn out that his BIRTHDAY is celebrating HIM? CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Here's an actual message we received on the message board from one of our viewers: 'Colin Quinn is a p***** slut whore. Colin Quinn is not only an idiot but also a douchebag.' And the sad part of this is I actually cut the second half because it was too hurtful to me. COLIN QUINN

CRACKED Following the January 6th Capitol attack, authorities have arrested more than 840 defendants. Incidentally, '840 defendants' is also the technical term for the Catholic church. AMBER RUFFIN

CRACKED Even the Pope is on Instagram liking a picture of an influencer dressed as a sexy schoolgirl. My guess is you were searching for Body of Christ and it autocorrected to booty of Christ. God works in mysterious, horny ways. LILLY SINGH

CRACKED Keira Knightly is fighting with a movie studio because they want to airbrush the poster for her new movie to make her breasts look bigger. In the studio's defense, the poster DOES say: 'This fall... Keira Knightley IS... Officer Big Boobs.' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED I'm dating a Keurig machine - he's strong, hot, and never drips without permission first. Make sure you don't order the Louis С.К. model because that one thinks it can show you its K-Cup whenever it wants. CHELSEA HANDLER

CRACKED If you ever meet a guy in his 30s who says, 30s are the new 20s, all he's saying is, I do cocaine! LILLY SINGH

CRACKED One of the guys in the locker room, at the behest of Tom Brady, calls himself The Deflator! What was the other guy's nickname, Joey Cheats-At-Football? JON STEWART

CRACKED A new poll has found that a majority of Americans believe the government is spying on them. 'No, we're not,' said your microwave SETH MEYERS

CRACKED This is Putin's highest margin of victory yet - it's really impressive. Though I'm starting to think he might have had help from the Russians. STEPHEN COLBERT

CRACKED Being a woman sucks. And being a woman in sports sucks even more. Especially tennis - they make them wear skirts. Skirts! Like it's fucking Catholic school! MICHELLE WOLF

CRACKED NASA has developed a $250 million dollar device that will allow astronauts to convert their urine into drinking water. Which sounds impressive - but it's really just a urinal cake taped to a Brita filter. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Right now I'm actually picturing some guy saying, Uh, what am I supposed to do? Stop asking women out at work because it makes them uncomfortable? Yes, you are at work. SAMANTHA BEE

CRACKED Health inspectors will give New York street food vendors letter grades, so if you see a streetcar with the letters A, в or C, that's just the type of hepatitis you'll get. JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED We can all sleep easy at night knowing that somewhere at any given time, the Foo Fighters are out there fighting Foo. DAVID LETTERMAN

CRACKED Donald Trump nominated his presidential physician, Adm. Ronny Jackson, to be the new secretary of veterans affairs. Meanwhile, Trump will continue as secretary of having affairs. JAMES CORDEN

CRACKED It's that magical time of the year. The leaves are changing, the pumpkin is spicing and Apple rolls out a bunch of iPhones we don't need. JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED Mark Zuckerberg is not having a good day. Things are so bad for him right now that Facebook is showing him ads for Xanax. TREVOR NOAH

CRACKED To understand how we got here we have to go back to the origins of the new religious right. For a generation they've been like a wasp in an airplane - they're small and outnumbered, but everyone still has to avoid pissing them off. SAMANTHA BEE

CRACKED Amazon is planning to introduce up to eight new 'smart' home devices this year, including a voice-controlled microwave oven. Though if you need voice control to use a microwave, maybe you're too drunk to eat whatever you're asking for. SETH MEYERS

CRACKED Prince Charles' puppy is missing. Не has a brown and white coat and floppy ears, no word on what the dog looks like CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED I have to say, I can't wait to see Pence debating Donald Trump. It's going to be like Elmo versus Cocaine Bear. JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED Internal strife is tearing the Republican Party apart at the seams. It's like a new Civil War, only this time neither side is trying to help Black people. STEPHEN COLBERT

CRACKED Today is the first official day of summer. Right now everyone's thinking, I'm going to hike, I'm going to go camping, I'm going to hit the beach. While Netflix is like, Sure you are. JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED During a court case in New Zealand, a man was forced to have his penis measured. The man said, 'This is the last time I fight a parking ticket.' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans consumed roughly 1.25 billion chicken wings, 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, and 49.2 million cases of beer. Suck on that, Third World! LARRY WILMORE

CRACKED Do we really need a march to raise awareness about global climate change? I mean, it's an accepted scientific phenomenon pretty much everywhere... except this one place called the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. JON STEWART

CRACKED Julian Assange is not a likable man. Even Benedict Cumberbatch could not make him likable! He's un-Cumberbatchable! That was supposed to be physically impossible! JOHN OLIVER

CRACKED The Supreme Court is making some big decisions this week. I thought that's what they're supposed to do every week but apparently no. Do we even need a Supreme Court? Everyone's always like 'every vote counts.' A nation of millions. Every vote is important but for the big decisions how many people do you need? Nine. COLIN QUINN

CRACKED Facebook has announced a new page called 'Memories' that will show users photos from the past. It's better than the original title for the page: 'When You Were Thinner.' SETH MEYERS

CRACKED (President Trump) didn't fire Jeff Sessions. Не just said 'Rumplestiltskin' and the curse was broken. TREVOR NOAH

CRACKED Sorry to interrupt your television viewing if you've been watching something good but now it's me. CRAIG FERGUSON

CRACKED This morning on The Today Show, The New Kids on the Block reunited to perform an outdoor concert - even though there were huge wind gusts and it was pouring rain. So at least God TRIED to stop them. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED You know how people are always like, 'I wonder why there aren't more female comedians?' Maybe it's because every time a woman opens her mouth to tell a joke, someone tries to put their dick in it. SAMANTHA BEE

CRACKED (On children at the border) The left is using words like 'barbaric' and 'unAmerican' and 'children being kept in cages' and the right is using words like 'But what is a cage?' and 'Hey, look over there!' JORDAN KLEPPER

CRACKED Yeah, the president canceled student loan debt and now he's pardoning people for weed. I think Biden's going to be able to get into any frat he wants right now. JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED Twenty years ago, my father was like, 'I'm going to save up so my child can be on the Internet. That is where everything happens.' And now I'm like, 'My child cannot be on the Internet. That is where everything happens.' HASAN MINHAJ

CRACKED MyPillow C.E.O. Mike Lindell said that F.B.I. agents seized his cellphone at a Hardee's drive-through in Minnesota. The F.B.I. says they weren't tipped off about his location, they just assumed. 'Hey, they want us to get Lindell's cellphone.' 'All right - Hardee's drive-through? SETH MEYERS

CRACKED $60,000 was stolen from a Whole Foods in New York. Luckily, Whole Foods will make all that money back the next time someone buys an apple. JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED During a recent interview, Lamar Odom said that he can't wait to have a baby with his new bride Khloe Kardashian. Then he blew an imaginary whistle and shouted 'Choo-choo! All aboard the mistake train!' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED New rule: You can't call your show Fox and Friends if you don't have any friends. BILL MAHER

CRACKED The theme park Legoland in Britain had to shut down yesterday due to a bomb scare. Very scary news. Although if there was ever an easy place to rebuild... SETH MEYERS

CRACKED Canada reportedly sought advice from former President Jimmy Carter on how to update their prostitution laws. I'm thinking, 'You've got the wrong former president. CRAIG FERGUSON

CRACKED Scientists in London are working on a substitute for alcohol that doesn't cause hangovers. When asked what they're calling it, the scientists said, 'Weed.' JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED The Duggers have just had their 20th child with all their names starting with the letter 'J.' The new one is called, 'Just get off me.' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED As a newsman, I want to salute whoever came up with the term 'polar vortex.' It is terrifying but still sounds all science-y. A lesser meteorologist could have overreached with 'arctic coldnado' or 'alaskan dick punch,' but 'polar vortex' is restrained but menacing. STEPHEN COLBERT

CRACKED During her halftime show performance at last night's Super Bowl, Rihanna revealed that she was pregnant, while the rest of us just ate like we were. SETH MEYERS

CRACKED This guy really thinks, 'Is Joe Biden woke?' was like a hard-hitting question. The real hard-hitting question would be, 'Is Joe Biden awake?' SARAH SILVERMAN

CRACKED I wouldn't worry just yet. As of now, Biden thinks TikTok is the clock on 60 Minutes. JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED After my bypass surgery I knew I had to change my lifestyle, and then it occurred to me - I don't have a lifestyle. DAVID LETTERMAN

CRACKED At this point, I'd probably have more rights if my vagina was an AR-15. CHELSEA HANDLER

CRACKED Last night, the Rolling Stones performed a concert in Brooklyn. Afterwards, Mick Jagger said, 'We haven't been here in a while, when did they put that bridge up?' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Everyone is nervous about TikTok because they think all of our information is being delivered to China. In response, TikTok said, 'Well, it's not delivery - it's D'Amelio.' JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED (After SpaceX rocket exploded) I have to hand it to Musk - ' rapid unscheduled disassembly' is one hell of a way to describe your rocket blowing up. That's up there with 'wardrobe malfunction' and 'conscious uncoupling.' JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED (On getting rid of Columbus Day) Why not Frank Sinatra Day? Не killed no Native Americans... that we know of. JOHN OLIVER

CRACKED It's been reported that after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes exchange traditional wedding vows, there will be a Scientology ceremony that involves petting a cat. But it's not just ANY cat - it's the cat that gets 10% of John Travolta's income. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Marjorie Taylor Greene is hardly the first member of Congress to hold some out-there beliefs. Ted Cruz believes that beard is working for him. TREVOR NOAH

CRACKED As Bezos has gotten swole, so has Amazon. It has invested in or acquired more than 100 companies, including IMDB, Twitch, Audible, Songza, Skingo, Woot, Quidsi and Whole Foods. Full disclosure, only one of those companies isn't real. I didn't know which one it was either. HASAN MINHAJ

CRACKED Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test. It's the worst thing to happen to Medina Spirit since that tiny man beat his ass for two minutes. AMBER RUFFIN

CRACKED The Dalai Lama is threatening to resign from his position as the spiritual leader of Tibet. When asked why, the Dalai Lama said: 'I promised myself I'd quit the moment it stopped being fun.' CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Keith Richards turns 75 today, and hey, I hope I look that good - when I'm 91. SETH MEYERS

CRACKED Trump's approval rating keeps dropping. He's at a historically low 33% and if it goes down into the teens, Kevin Spacey might carry it into a bedroom and crawl on top of it. CHELSEA HANDLER

CRACKED Let's look at everything the Bible says about abortion. Oh, look! There it is, in the Book of Doesn't Exist. SAMANTHA BEE

CRACKED Paul, the octopus who predicted the outcome of all those World Cup games, died this week. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that people send lemon wedges and tartar sauce. JAY LENO

CRACKED Martin Levine has passed away at the age of seventy-five. Mr. Levine had owned a movie theater chain here in New York. The funeral will be on Thursday. At 2:15, 4:20, 6:30, 8:40, and 10:50. DAVID LETTERMAN

CRACKED A man who co-wrote the song called 'The Hokey Pokey' has died at the age of 104. His last words were, So THAT'S what it's all about. CONAN O'BRIEN

CRACKED Billy Joel was married to Christie Brinkley. How unfair is that? She's gorgeous and he's some shapes. MICHELLE WOLF

CRACKED Since when does Giuliani get to declare who loves the country? Who put him in charge of country love? Isn't that Toby Keith's job? LARRY WILMORE

CRACKED On Friday, three of the biggest online poker sites were charged with bank fraud, illegal gambling, and money laundering. I hope they don't start arresting online poker players, said me. NORM MACDONALD

CRACKED In the 48 hours since the Mitt Romney video first gained wide exposure, turd containment crews have been working overtime on Bullshit Mountain. JON STEWART

CRACKED ESPN The Magazine is about to release its annual Body Issue, which features 21 athletes posing nude. Along with the same promise as always: No bowlers. JIMMY FALLON

CRACKED He's gone by a number of names, including George Santos, Anthony Devolder, Anthony Zebrowski, LL Cool G, Supreme Court Justice George Bader Ginsberg, George Costantos, Melania, Malala, Madonna, and King George Batman Santos-Clooney. JIMMY KIMMEL

CRACKED Drug companies are a bit like high school boyfriends. They're much more concerned with getting inside of you than being effective once they're in there. JOHN OLIVER

CRACKED A scientist has discovered that female humans and female birds have the same sexual habits. The scientist discovered this because every time he had sex with his wife, she went to the bathroom on his windshield. CONAN O'BRIEN
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