Conan O'Brien is not one of our more political late night personalities, but the host broke form on Monday, opening his show by discussing Sunday's devastating massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub. O'Brien explained: "Our goal, obviously, night after night, is to be funny and silly ... However, sometimes events are so horrifying and bleak that to come out here and tell jokes, it's not really possible. Tonight, sadly, is one of those nights." Addressing the Orlando tragedy and the gun laws that enabled its occurrence, O'Brien said, "I have really tried very hard over the years not to bore you with what I think. However, I am a father of two. I like to believe I have a shred of common sense, and I simply do not understand why anybody in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi-automatic assault rifle ... These are weapons of war and they have no place in civilian life."
O'Brien was far from alone in his sentiment. Jimmy Fallon also opened The Tonight Show by addressing the tragedy. He said: "Maybe there's a lesson from all of this, a lesson in tolerance. We need to support each other's differences and worry less about our own opinions. Get back to debate and away from believing or supporting the idea that if somebody doesn't live the way you want them to live, you just buy a gun and kill them. Bomb them up. That is not okay."
On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee expressed her fury at the attack and at the stagnancy of efforts to prevent future ones. She explained: "After a massacre, the standard procedure is you stand on a stage and deliver some well-meaning words about how we will get through this together, how love wins, how love conquers hate. And that is great. That is beautiful, but you know what? Fuck it. I am too angry for that. Love does not win unless we start loving each other enough to fix our fucking problems."
Stephen Colbert, speaking emotionally from his desk at The Late Show, said: "It's easy, almost tempting to be paralyzed by such a monstrously hateful act, to despair and say, 'That's just the way the world is now.' Well, I don't know what to do. But I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything ... Let's remember that 'love' is a verb, and 'to love' means 'to do something.'"
Seth Meyers swapped out his Late Night monologue for a "Closer Look" segment on the attacks, explaining: "Usually right now in the show, we would start with the monologue. We would tell you jokes about today's news. So much, though, of the news right now is dominated by the horrific events in Orlando, the attack on the LGBTQ community there. And so, we decided we would try to address that and, in addressing it, maybe help us all process it a little bit more, because I don't know if we can ever fully understand it."