I get why Carson is beloved by many. I've watched several of his clips and he's extremely cool. He let his guests smoke on the set on the early days!
However, I grew up with some of the more contemporary hosts and I grew to like them.
My top favorites have to be Colbert and Conan. I missed The Colbert Report, regrettably. But his Late Show run with his political banter has been hilarious. Conan I've started to watch since he started on TBS. I really liked his humor and his segments, such as the Remotes with the celebrities or the visits to other countries.
After one night trying to catch the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I stumbled upon Craig Ferguson on the same time slot, and I'm kicking myself in the ass for not watching his show back when it was on the air. He didn't follow the traditional formula; he did as well he pleased and it worked. He was just so random, and I like it too.