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Emmys: Watch the Year's Best Moments From 'Tonight,' 'Daily Show,' 'Colbert Report'

Cue the laughter: Highlights from this year's crop of variety series contenders

Emma Stone Jimmy Fallon Lipsync Battle - H 2014
Courtesy of NBC
Emma Stone and Jimmy Fallon on "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"

Last year's Emmy winner for variety series, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, will be facing stiff competition.

Hot on its tail are NBC's newcomer The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central's 10-time winner The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, NBC's Saturday Night Live and HBO's 10-time nominee Real Time With Bill Maher.

Which late-night program will come out on top this year? The Hollywood Reporter highlights some of the funniest moments from the nominated programs over the past year.

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

Incoming Late Show host Stephen Colbert found himself at the center of a Twitter controversy this past spring when The Colbert Report's official account tweeted a racial joke without context, spawning a trending #CancelColbert campaign. Naturally, Colbert addressed the outcry on his March 31 program with a response that showed Colbert at his satirical best. "The dark forces trying to silence my message of core conservative principles mixed with youth-friendly product placement have been thwarted," he said after proclaiming that "the Interwebs tried to swallow me whole." He even recruited Twitter's Biz Stone to help shut down @ColbertReport. 

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

Can The Daily Show reclaim the Emmy throne from The Colbert Report? Popular among younger audiences, the satirical/fake news program in June "investigated" an unusual crime trend: discrimination against wearers of "face computer" Google Glass, which, as one early adopter ("eye douches") pointed out, are basically "a cell phone on your face." The five-minute "report," conducted by longtime correspondent Jason Jones, was the perfect example of Daily Show mockery.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)

After the viral #TwerkFail video took the Internet by storm in 2013, late-night prankster Jimmy Kimmel was back at it, only this time he had his sights set on the Sochi Winter Olympics. Olympic luger Kate Hansen was recruited to help pull off the ruse, tweeting a video of a stray wolf roaming the floor at her Sochi dorm. It made headline news, from CNN and NBC's Today to the Weather Channel and the Bleacher Report.

Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)

Ten-time variety series nominee Real Time With Bill Maher consistently churns out timely and relevant pop culture and political commentary with a diverse panel of celebrity guests, tastemakers and notable figures. Just this season, Real Time has featured Ronan Farrow, Mayim Bialik, Rachel Maddow, Seth MacFarlane, Jimmy Carter, Pussy Riot, Arianna Huffington, Sarah Silverman, Anthony Weiner, Ralph Nader and Nate Silver. To get a better sense of what Real Time had to offer this past year, check out Cosmos host/real-life astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson explain to Maher why he's excited to see if there's life on Jupiter's moon, Europa, while defending science.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

An up-and-down season for Saturday Night Live prompted several castmember departures, but some of the show's best work this past year still came via its digital shorts. One of them, the Adjustment Bureau-inspired "The Beygency" from May, showed the dire consequences for anyone (in this case, Andrew Garfield) who makes the mistake of publicly admitting to not being "crazy in love" with songs by Beyonce, the reigning Queen of Pop. Even Jack Bauer got in on the game.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

It's been only six months since Jimmy Fallon took over the Tonight Show from Jay Leno and already the performer has produced a ton of viral content, from recurring sketches ("Ew!"), original shorts ("House of Cue Cards"), mashups (Brian Williams' "Rapper's Delight"), performances (Idina Menzel's post-Oscar "Let It Go" rendition with classroom instruments, "History of Rap 5") and games ("Box of Lies," "Catchphrase"). Fallon's karaoke challenge to a gung-ho Emma Stone via "Lip Sync Battle" in April (with nearly 29 million YouTube views), however, may take the cake.