This Is Why Talk Show Hosts Always Sit on the Right-Hand Side
That seating arrangement is no coincidence.
If you’ve ever watched a talk show, you may have noticed that, no matter what the subject matter, the sets have a tendency to look the same. The host sits behind a desk on the right-hand side and their guests are seated stage left. In fact, virtually every talk show host, from Johnny Carson to Jimmy Kimmel has repeated this exact set-up. So, why does this set design detail keep getting replicated?
Because of royalty, of course.
You’re probably scratching your head right about now: what do the royal family and talk show hosts have in common? Perhaps more than you think.
At a royal banquet, the king is traditionally seated to the right of the table to convey his power. A similar idea is used when staging talk shows. The host sits on stage right behind a desk, creating visual separation between him and his humble subjects. English is also read left to right, so our eyes have a tendency to stop on whatever is to the right of a page or screen. This makes it feel more natural to focus on a host who’s on the right.
This positioning also makes sense in terms of the host’s ability to communicate. Since the vast majority of humans are right-handed, this position keeps the host’s dominant hand between him and whoever is to his right, making it easier to film them interacting with their guests.
While this on-stage configuration has been the standard for some time now, there are always exceptions to the rule. On U.K. hit The Graham Norton Show, the titular host sits stage left in a chair. His guests sit stage right on a couch. It seems that Norton’s influence may have extended stateside, as well, shifting the right-desk paradigm for future hosts.
James Corden, a fellow Brit and host of The Late Late Show with James Corden, has taken a similar approach. Corden sits in a leather office chair on the stage left side of his guests when he interviews them. However, it seems old habits die hard. Despite his generally unconventional approach to interviews—Carpool Karaoke included—the host still sits behind a desk on stage right when introducing certain segments. Now that you know your favorite celebrity’s seating secrets, find out how they look so good with the 20 Secrets of Ageless Celebrities!
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