A Guide to TV Bandleaders

Now that Stephen Colbert has started his version of the Late Show this month, he’s be the latest in the ongoing game of musical Staples desk chairs that is late night hosts. But the music is the key — every Dave has his Paul, and, thanks large part to Jimmy Fallon somehow scoring The Roots as his house band, the musical sidekick game has been seriously upped in recent years. Colbert chose Jon Batiste, a Julliard-educated Louisiana jazzman known for his interactive performances (and for his role on HBO’s Treme, if you’re among the seven people who watched David Simon’s follow up to The Wire). His musical credentials are legit. But funny? Remains to be seen. Which got us thinking: just who is the best band leader bantering stage left right now, and why? Here, we ranked them based on musical ability and comedic chops.

1. Reggie Watts

The late Late Show with James Corden

2. Fred Armison

Late Night Show with Seth Meyers

3. Jon Batiste

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

4. Questlove (The Roots)

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

5. Jimmy Vivino


6. Cleto Escobedo

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Watch Questlove and Fred Armisen go head-to-head in a “drum off.”