The entries are read by Letterman in reverse countdown order, and are accompanied by a drum roll performed by CBS Orchestra drummer Anton Fig. There are six montages: the pyramids, the athletes (usually used for a sports-themed top ten list), the taxi cabs, the water towers, the sewer covers, and, in time for the 2012 presidential campaign, the campaign trail. The conclusion of the list is then followed by a brief performance by the band, usually a pop song relating to the topic of the list in some way.
Occasionally, the list is given by a guest presenter (such as John Malkovich reading "Ten Things That Sound Creepy When Said by John Malkovich" or Casey Kasem reading the recurring category "Top Ten Numbers Between One and Ten"). At times, the list has also been given by a series of presenters, with each providing one entry; for example, the list for "Ten Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Dave", presented was presented in 2000 by a group that included Rudolph Giuliani, Cindy Crawford, and Dave's mom.
Four animated characters have recited a Top Ten list on the show: Homer Simpson (twice), Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin and Optimus Prime.
Perhaps to break the monotony of daily list, the show will occasionally add a twist to the presentation, sometimes by altering the nature of the list itself. One notable example occurred on November 27, 2001. Introduced as "Top Ten Ways Osama bin Laden Can Improve His Image," the list consisted of only one entry: "#10. There's no way he can improve his image. He's a murdering, soul-less asshole."
A common source of confusion regarding the Top Ten List is why the #1 entry is usually seen as the least funny. This even inspired the Late Show to run a pre-taped bit in 1998, humorously exploring the apparent mystery, and to mention it again on December 29, 1999, when the list "Top Ten Phrases That Were Not Spoken This Millennium," included the #1 entry of, "Why is the number one always so damn funny?" Writer Bill Scheft confirmed this in a 2007 interview on Costas on the Radio, stating that the writers use the three funniest entries on #10, to start the list strong, #6, which accompanies an on-screen slide change, and #2, which is the last opportunity for a laugh before the completion of the bit.
Sometimes the list would be long if video clips are incorporated such as "Top 10 Bush Moments" and the music store featuring Jack Black, where number one simply has him reciting a verse for a minute.
Read more about this topic: Late Show Top Ten List
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“He uses his folly like a stalking-horse, and under the presentation of that he shoots his wit.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)