Guest Host

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"Welcome to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Ironically enough, I'm Stephen Colbert."

Most light entertainment shows, be it morning news, chat show or quiz show, will have a host. Generally speaking, it's always the same person/s day in, day out, providing seamless links, interesting conversation, probing questions and needed stability to the show. But what if they want to go on holiday or — heaven forbid — fall ill... What then? The show must go on, after all.

Cue the Guest Host.

The guest host is a temporary stand in until the full-time host returns. It may be one guest host or a succession of guest hosts. If you're lucky it's somebody appropriate and even chosen by the full-time host. If not, you could end up with a wild change of tone in the show.

There is another version of this where a show only has guest hosts on instead of a regular.

Examples of Guest Host include:

Late Night Talk Shows

  • The Tonight Show: In the later years of his tenure, Johnny Carson would take one day off a week and leave it to guest hosts. Eventually there came to be a single "permanent guest host" (Joan Rivers and Jay Leno both had this position), a phrase referred to by Penn & Teller as the "rare triple oxymoron".
    • During the Steve Allen era, Steve got a prime time Sunday night show in 1956 which necessitated being absent Monday and Tuesday nights. Ernie Kovacs guest-hosted these nights until both men left due to the show's short-lived format change to a Nightline-style show in March to October 1957.
    • Likewise, a month of guests hosted The Tonight Show after Jack Paar's resignation in 1962. The last guest host before Johnny Carson took over was Groucho Marx; there had been some speculation that Groucho was being considered as the permanent host, but concerns were raised about his age, as he was 67 years old at the time.
  • The Paul O'Grady Show had guest hosts take over when Paul had a heart attack and again when he was ill with the flu. The show must go on.
  • The NBC talk show Later had a long string of guest hosts after the departure of Greg Kinnear; Cynthia Garrett became permanent host for a few months, but when she left the show halted production. For a year it became Later Presents SCTV, a slot for reruns of the 1980s sketch comedy show, before Last Call with Carson Daly replaced it.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman went to guest hosts while Dave had heart surgery in 2000, and again when he was ill with shingles in 2003. When he was recovering from heart surgery, almost all of the guest hosts refused to sit in his chair. Letterman still makes use of guest hosts because he is ill or cannot make a scheduled taping for other reasons.
  • The Late Late Show had guest hosts for a few months after Craig Kilborn suddenly left. A few comedians took week-long stints on the show as a sort of audition for the permanent position; Craig Ferguson, who hadn't been interested in becoming a talk show host before he started guest-hosting and decided he liked it, ended up with the job.
  • The Daily Show uses the correspondents when Jon is unavailable. Stephen Colbert was the go-to guest host before he got his own show. Nowadays, the show will sometimes go on hiatus when Jon is unavailable instead of having a guest host (there haven't been any in years), for example in the run up to the Academy Awards.

Panel Games

  • Have I Got News for You started out with Angus Deayton who, after damaging news stories about himself, left the show. They started replacing him with guest hosts, which was deemed popular and has yet to actually have a permanent host since Deayton's departure some years ago.
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks , much like Have I Got News for You, had to make do with guest hosts after Mark Lamarr left the show up until Simon Amstell took over the helm. From there Bill Bailey, one of the team captains, left the show with guest team captains filling the gap until finding a permanent one with Noel Fielding. This stable period ended once Amstell left the show, leaving the show with guest hosts once more. Whether either this or HIGNFY's inability to hold down a permanent host speaks of the indecisiveness of the producers when replacing a big personality host or the indecisiveness of the viewers is best left to the reader.
  • The 51st series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, had Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon chair two episodes each, because no one could really replace Humph.

Interview/Information Shows

  • Charlie Rose had nothing but guest hosts for a short while.
  • The whole point of the Friday Night Project was to have a guest host on every week while regular hosts will help and support them. Basically, a reverse chat show.
  • At the Movies had a long string of guest co-hosts after Gene Siskel died before settling on Richard Roeper. For medical reasons, Ebert also had guests standing in for him, before Roeper's departure and the show's revamp.
  • One episode of Real Time with Bill Maher featured Seth MacFarlane hosting the webcasted Overtime segment in place of Bill; before this, Bill had never had a guest host on Real Time at all.

Game Shows

  • In the early days when game shows usually taped live, the host and/or announcer would sometimes get a week off while a guest hosted/announced. A notable example is the original 1960s version of Password, which gave guest hosting duties to (among others) announcer Jack Clark and to host Allen Ludden's wife, Betty White.
  • This also happened twice in the long life of Let's Make a Deal: Dennis James filled in for Monty Hall on the original version, and Geoff Edwards filled in on the 1984 revival The All-New Let's Make a Deal. Announcer Dean Goss also hosted part of an episode of All-New because Hall (who was also executive producer) wanted to pass the torch should the show be renewed for a third season (it wasn't).
    • Going the other way, the 1990 version (originally hosted by Bob Hilton) had Monty guest-host its last few weeks. He felt that the show was failing due to poor reception of Hilton as host, and planned to fill out the season until he could find a suitable replacement for the next season. However, the show was axed before that could happen.
  • In the 1970s, there were two versions of The Price Is Right: the current daytime version, then hosted by Bob Barker, and a nighttime version hosted by Dennis James. James hosted one week of daytime episodes because Bob was ill.
    • Price also had rotations of guest announcers following the deaths of Johnny Olson and Rod Roddy, and the firing of Rich Fields. Rod's declining health between 2001 and 2003 also led to several fill-ins by Burton Richardson and Randy West (plus one week by Paul Boland). Burton also announced one episode in 2006 because Rich had laryngitis.
    • Also, far too many fill-in models to list.
    • The original Price (1956–65) had guest hosts fill in for Bill Cullen when he took ill or went on vacation. In one instance on ABC, Robert Q. Lewis took the host reins as Bill participated bidding on prizes.
  • Alex Trebek guest-hosted a week of Wheel of Fortune in 1980, and another episode in 1985. On the former, he filled in for Chuck Woolery, and on the latter, he filled in for current host Pat Sajak.
    • He and Pat even traded places on April Fools' Day 1997, with Pat and Vanna also playing Wheel while Pat's wife, Lesly, touched the letters.
    • Similarly, Summer Bartholomew and Cynthia Washington both filled in for original letter-turner Susan Stafford in 1979 and 1980. After Susan left in 1982, Summer, Vicki McCarty and Vanna White alternated as guest letter-turners until Vanna got the nod. Susan returned for one week in 1986 so Vanna could recover after her boyfriend was killed in a plane crash. In January 1991, Tricia Gist filled in for two weeks to accomodate for Vanna's wedding, and returned two months later due to Vanna having a bad cold.
    • Same thing with their announcers. The main announcers were Charlie O'Donnell (1975–80, 1989-2010) and Jack Clark (1980–88), with M.G. Kelly as interim after Jack's death and before Charlie's return. Charlie, Johnny Gilbert and Don Morrow all filled in for Jack at various points, and Don Pardo did two weeks taped at Radio City Music Hall during M.G.'s tenure.
    • When Charlie returned, he missed only two weeks in 1995, for which Johnny Gilbert again filled in. After Charlie's death, several announcers rotated until Jim Thornton was chosen as his successor.
  • In 1974, Gene Rayburn guest hosted Tattletales for a week as regular host Bert Convy played the game with his wife, Anne. Gene actually hosted the Tattletales prototype in 1973, which was originally called Celebrity Match Mates (Convy would get the job after Gene landed the Match Game revival).


  • American Top 40 has had several guest hosts, when the regular host (Casey Kasem, Shadoe Stevens, Casey again, now Ryan Seacrest) was either unavailable or wanted a little time off.
  • Sister show American Country Countdown often did the same under the hosting of Bob Kingsley (who held the role from 1978 to 2005). When Kingsley left to start his own show, Bob Kingsleys Country Top 40, there was a three-week rotation of guest hosts on ACC before Kix Brooks took over. Over at Country Top 40, Bob takes one or two weeks off every year and lets singer-songwriter Jeffrey Steele fill in for him.
  • With his increasing age, Paul Harvey sometimes handed the mic over to someone else when he was unable to do the show. The most frequent guest host was his son, Paul Harvey Jr., but several other ABC radio personnel sometimes filled in, as did Fred Thompson.

Other Shows

  • World Wrestling Entertainment is currently attempting this on its flagship show, Monday Night RAW, with varying degrees of success and critique. The supposed reason is that when Trump "bought" the show, he was going to name Ric Flair as the General Manager...but when he sold it back to Vince McMahon, ol' Vinnie Mac wouldn't hear of it (canonically, Vince detests Ric on the air, and reports about their backstage relationship vary). Reports are that they intend on running with this guest host concept through WrestleMania 26.
    • Thankfully, however, the guest hosts concept is now over and done with, although it did run for a few months after Wrestlemania 26.
  • The animated series Tales from the Cryptkeeper, based on Tales from the Crypt, was occasionally hijacked by EC Comics' other narrators, the Vault-Keeper from The Vault of Horror and the Old Witch from The Haunt of Fear.
  • Due to the in-story disappearance of the central character Linkara, Atop the Fourth Wall featured either his then-girlfriend Iron Liz or several of his recurring characters (all played by Linkara himself) guest hosting his Video Review Show.
  • Saturday Night Live may have been initially planned to have a permanent host (there are references to Albert Brooks refusing the position) but started out in 1975 with different guest hosts each week. Thirty-three years later, there still isn't a full-time host.


  • Parodied by The Onion in their video sketches, where Clifford Banes has never once appeared as host of In the Know with Clifford Banes, owing to an increasingly unlikely series of circumstances.