Guest Host

"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, 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 (or, in some cases, a previous regular host or the presenter of a foreign iteration of the show). If not, you could end up with a wild change of tone in the show.

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


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    Late-Night Talk Shows 
  • 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, for example in the run up to the Academy Awards. In mid-2013, however, John Oliver hosted while Jon was in Iran directing Rosewater, which helped in earning him his own weekly show on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
  • The NBC talk show Later had a long string of guest hosts after the departure of Greg Kinnear in 1996; Friday Night host Rita Sever was the most prominent mainly because she was already there. Cynthia Garrett became permanent host on January 31, 2000, but NBC did little to promote the show and it ended in January 2001. 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.
    • Musical director Paul Shaffer guest-hosted the night Dave couldn't be there because his son was being born, and at least one of the aforementioned episodes from 2003.
    • Once during Letterman's Late Night years, Dave was in his cabin in the woods while Larry "Bud" Melman guest hosted. Throughout the show, we see Dave in his cabin watching on TV.
  • The Late Late Show had guest hosts for several months after Craig Kilborn suddenly left. Several people rotated as guest hosts, until it was whittled down to week-long auditions from Craig Ferguson, D. L. Hughley, Damien Fahey, and Michael Ian Black. note  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. When he departed at the end of 2014, the same template was used by CBS while James Corden gets in some rehearsal time before taking over the series in March 2015.
  • 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 Tonight Show had several examples over the years:
    • During the Steve Allen era, Steve got a primetime Sunday-night show in 1956 which necessitated being absent Monday and Tuesday nights. Ernie Kovacs hosted on these nights until both men left due to the show's short-lived format change to a Nightline-style show in March 1957.
    • After Jack Parr left the show in 1962, there was a six-month period of guest hosts including Hugh Downs, Groucho Marx, and Jerry Lewis due to ABC holding Carson to his contract as host of Who Do You Trust?
    • Carson had various guest hosts over the years, although in the later years he 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".
  • In the run up the the debut of the original The Arsenio Hall Show Arsenio contemplated having a guest host for the first episode, as a gag.

    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.
  • In the first episode of The Simpsons featuring the news, regular anchor Kent Brockman is on vacation and Scott Christian is filling in.

    Panel Games 
  • Have I Got News for You started out with Angus Deayton who, after damaging news stories about himself, left the show after the second episode of Series 24. They started replacing him with guest hosts, which was deemed so popular that it became a regular element of the show.
  • Similarly, Never Mind the Buzzcocks used guest hosts for Series 18 (after Mark Lamarr left the show) until Simon Amstell took over the helm at the start of Series 19. 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 following Series 22, leaving the programme with guest hosts once more.
  • Series 51 of Im Sorry I Havent A Clue had Stephen Fry, Jack Dee, and Rob Brydon chair two episodes each because no one could really replace Humph.

    Game Shows 
  • GSN had some fun with this on April Fools' Day 2003 with its originals: Mark L. Walberg hosted Friend Or Foe? (normally hosted by Lisa Kennedy), Kennedy hosted WinTuition (normally hosted by Marc Summers), Graham Elwood hosted Whammy! (normally hosted by Todd Newton), Newton hosted Russian Roulette (normally hosted by Walberg), and Summers hosted Cram (normally hosted by Elwood). A few things happened in relation to this:
    • Lingo had Marc and Mark playing against Graham and Kennedy, with Newton serving as onstage announcer/comic relief to regular host Chuck Woolery.
    • It was the last first-run episodes of Friend or Foe?, WinTuition, and Russian Roulette. Roulette had the giant Whammy from Whammy! present in the audience, and WinTuition had then-network vice-president and game show fan Bob Boden as the Answer Kid.
    • As part of the weirdness, GSN also aired the last episode of a special Valentine's Week (read: "Aired Pilot Week") of The New Newlywed Game that ABC showed in February 1984, which had Jim Lange hosting and Rod Roddy announcing.
  • Family Feud had two episodes, both during the original Richard Dawson version (1976-85), where one round was hosted by a guest. One game opened to Sammy Davis, Jr. hosting the first question, and a later game had contestant coordinator Caryn Lucas host one question since Dawson had just injured his ribs in a car accident and needed some time to adjust a slipping brace.
  • The Hollywood Squares had some fun moments:
    • During the 1986-89 era, guest hosts included regular squares Jm J. Bullock, Joan Rivers, and announcer Shadoe Stevens. Most of these were due to regular host John Davidson being unavailable, but a couple different games had Joan Rivers and ALF (yes, really!) hosting while Davidson sat in a square. When Stevens filled in, Howard Stern took Shadoe's usual role of announcer/bottom center square.
    • During the Tom Bergeron-hosted revival (1998-2004), Rosie O'Donnell hosted one round. Later on, during a Game Show Hosts week, original Squares host Peter Marshall returned to guest host one episode while Bergeron sat on the panel.
    • The Bergeron version also had guest announcers during the two Game Show Hosts weeks (2002 and 2003). The first had Rod Roddy, and the second had Shadoe Stevens (who announced the first couple seasons of the Bergeron version as well) return one last time. Respectively, Rod and Shadoe were taking over for Jeffrey Tambor and John Moschitta.
  • Jim Peck filled in for Jack Barry several times on The Jokers Wild. When Barry died and the show was handed over to Bill Cullen, Peck got to return for a couple more guest hosting stints when Cullen was unavailable.
  • 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 1984-86 version.
    • Announcer Dean Goss hosted two deals during the 1985-86 season 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 1990s version (originally hosted by Bob Hilton) had Monty take over as "guest host" in October 1990. Hall felt that the show was failing due to poor reception of Hilton as host, planning to audition various candidates on-air and pick a permanent replacement. However, NBC just opted to can the show in January 1991 — and bring Wheel of Fortune back over from CBS to replace it.
  • Password had a few examples over time:
    • During the original 1960s version, Jack Clark filled in on a few occasions.
    • For the ABC era, Monty Hall hosted a few weeks (one of which had Allen playing against his wife Betty White). In 1975, Betty herself hosted a week.
    • Much later in his career (1980), Ludden was too ill to host Password Plus, so Bill Cullen filled in for four weeks while Geoff Edwards temporarily took over for Bill for two weeks on Chain Reaction. (Both shows aired on NBC at the time.)
    • After Ludden retired from Plus, Tom Kennedy took over as host… but one episode has his brother, Jack Narz, host so that Kennedy could play the game himself.
  • The Price Is Right has had many examples:
    • The original version (1956-63 on NBC, 1963-65 on ABC) had guest hosts fill in for Bill Cullen when he took ill or went on vacation — Merv Griffin, Arlene Francis, and Don Pardo all held the role during the NBC era, while Johnny Gilbert, Jack Clark, and Robert Q. Lewis all held the reins during the ABC era. Notably, Lewis' turn as host actually had Bill as that day's celebrity bidder (an element introduced when Price changed networks).
    • When Price returned in 1972, there were two versions: the daytime series then hosted by Bob Barker, and a nighttime version hosted by Dennis James (until 1977, then Barker until its demise in 1980). James hosted the daytime episodes of December 24-27, 1974 because Bob had the flu on December 2, a measure that had never been done before and hasn't been done since.
    • Price also had rotations of guest announcers. After Johnny Olson died, the guests were Rod Roddy, Gene Wood, Bob Hilton, and Rich Jeffries, with Rod eventually getting the job. Rod's declining health between 2001 and 2003 also led to several fill-ins by Burton Richardson (who previously did the 1994 syndicated version) and Randy West, plus one week by Paul Boland.
      • Oddly, a then-retired Gene Wood did some post-production announcing work on reruns in Summer 1998.
    • After Rod died in 2003, the substitutes consisted of Burton and Randy along with Daniel Rosen, Art Sanders, Roger Rose, Don Bishop, Jim Thornton, and Rich Fields, with Rich ultimately getting the job. Burton also did the December 22, 2006 show due to Rich having laryngitis.
    • Following Rich's departure in 2010, another rotation occurred: JD Roberto, Jeff Davis, Brad Sherwood, David H. Lawrence XVII, Steve White, and George Gray, who was chosen as Rich's successor.
    • Also, far too many fill-in models to list.
    • For April Fools' Day 2014, Drew Carey (who succeeded Barker as host) did a flip-flop with Craig Ferguson. Drew hosted The Late Late Show with George Gray as announcer and the models as sidekicks, while Craig Ferguson hosted Price with Shadoe Stevens announcing, and Secratariat and Geoff Peterson as "models".
  • 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).
    • On at least two occasions, "Tattletales" had a special "Emcee Week", where Bert would host for two days out of the week, and each of the other days would be hosted by a guest host while the Convys played the game. In 1975, the guest hosts were Bob Barker, Gene Rayburn, and Bobby Van. The following year, Bob Barker, Jack Narz, and Richard Dawson were the guest emcees.
  • Alex Trebek guest-hosted a week of Wheel of Fortune on daytime in 1980 and another episode in 1985, filling in for Chuck Woolery on the former and Pat Sajak on the latter.
    • On April Fools' Day 1997, Trebek hosted Wheel with Pat and Lovely Assistant Vanna White playing for charity and Pat's wife, Lesly, in Vanna's usual role. Pat also hosted that day's Jeopardy! - which, notably, was otherwise a normal game (with most fans agreeing he acquitted himself very well).
    • Similarly, Summer Bartholomew and Cynthia Washington both filled in for original hostess Susan Stafford in 1979 and 1980, both times due to her being injured. Arte Johnson also held this role for one day in 1980, likely to plug his NBC show Knockout. 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 accommodate for Vanna's wedding, and returned two months later due to Vanna having a bad cold.
    • Same thing with their announcers. The main announcers are Charlie O'Donnell (1975-80, 1989-2010), Jack Clark (1980-88), M.G. Kelly (1988-89), and Jim Thornton (2011-). Charlie, Johnny Gilbert, and Don Morrow all filled in for Jack at various points (including Spring and Summer 1988, shortly before and after Clark's death), 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 Gilbert again filled in. After Charlie's death, several announcers rotated (Johnny Gilbert, Rich Fields, Lora Cain, Joe Cipriano, John Cramer, and Jim Thornton) until Jim Thornton was chosen as his successor.
    • Wheel also had a guest director for some weeks in Season 31. Director Mark Corwin died after directing only two weeks of episodes. In his place, Jeopardy! director Kevin McCarthy directed a set of episodes taped on location in Las Vegas, while associate director Bob Cisneros and technical director Robert Ennis Jr. filled in for a few weeks until Cisneros was promoted to full-time director.

  • 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 1978-2005). When Kingsley left to start his own show, Bob Kingsley's 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 occasionally handed the mic over to a singer. Jeffrey Steele did a week each in 2008 and '09, and Jack Ingram did another week in 2008. A Connecticut DJ named Lance Tidwell filled in for Bob in late 2012.
  • With his increasing age and a serious bout of pneumonia late in his career, 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.
  • CMT Country Countdown USA uses a variant of this trope. Each show is hosted by Lon Helton (formerly the editor of the now-defunct Radio & Records magazine) and a different country music singer every week.
  • Hancock's Half Hour had Harry Secombe playing the part of Tony Hancock for a couple of episodes when Hancock himself was ill - this was then immediately lampshaded upon the real Hancock's return with an episode revolving around Hancock tracking down Secombe to thank him for the favour, which revealed Secombe to be living a rather sitcom-like existence in Wales. Sadly, none of these episodes are known to have survived, except as scripts.

    Other Shows 
  • For some months, World Wrestling Entertainment attempted it on its flagship show Monday Night RAW to varying degrees of success and critique. The supposed reason was that when Donald Trump "bought" the show, he was going to name Ric Flair as 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). The concept stopped a few months after WrestleMania 26.
    • The idea did bring in some people you probably wouldn't associate with wrestling, including Pee-Wee Herman (which, at least canonically, Vince was pissed at) and Bob Barker (who turned the show into The Price Is RAW and seemed to be having quite a bit of fun).
  • The animated series Tales from the Crypt Keeper, 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 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.
    • This would later happen with TV Trash as well
  • 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-eight years later, there still isn't a full-time host.
  • This came up a few times on The Larry Sanders Show. One time they couldn't find anyone to guest host, so they had to settle for Hank hosting solo. It didn't go well.
  • When Punk'd was brought back in 2012, instead of having The Host with Ashton Kutcher, it was a host for each episode.

  • Parodied by The Onion in their video sketches, where Clifford Banes has never appeared as host of In the Know with Clifford Banes due to an increasingly unlikely series of circumstances...unless you count the time one of his guest hosts claimed to be Clifford in an incredibly lifelike mask.
  • Outside of a few episodes where the actual 'host' appeared (and failed) to get his gig back after recovering from his injuries from a tape shelf collapsing on him, Cheap Seats was permanently guest-hosted by 'tape library interns' Jason and Randy Sklar, and not smarmy ESPN host parody Ron Parker (the show's full name was Cheap Seats without Ron Parker).
  • Parodied in a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch where the regular female host of a female-oriented talk show (Woman To Woman, Maternity Matters) is unavailable, so the show's producer, a gruff, irascible, insensitive man named Roger Brush (Fred Armisen), fills in.