The talk show’s weaknesses are also its greatest strengths. They are routine — something has to air every night, so a lot of weird content sneaks out. Writers get anything on the air between plugs for The Boys in the Band. It is a PR machine, which can make things a bit predictable. You see the same stars go on multiple shows in the same week to promote the same product. But from that repetition can come strange moments of clarity, where a celebrity or host’s true personality shines through. Humanity pokes out awkwardly on talk shows, like a boner in tuxedo pants.
The theme of this week was: women in entertainment! Is it tough? It used to be tougher, according to Carol Burnett. On Monday’s Conan, she said CBS tried to scare her off from starring in her own variety show because “it’s not for you gals.” And because Ocean’s 8 is in full publicity mode, we got a lot of girl power on the couches this week. Thursday was the Fleet Week episode of The Tonight Show, and Cate Blanchett not only told the sailors to shut up when they were getting too rowdy, she outchugged Fallon.
Leitmotif of the Week: Barfing
Throwing up is not a cute anecdote, celebs! I don’t need to hear about Shailene Woodley’s seasickness, or Chris Hardwick’s cat, or Emilia Clarke’s pre-makeout barf fake-outs with her definitely-not-boyfriend Kit Harington. And although I enjoyed David Sedaris telling a story about feeding his benign tumor to a turtle, I’m sure it was an emetic for some. Stop it.
Best Comedian Cameo: Amber Ruffin
The gaping-content maw of late night demands human sacrifices, in the form of SAG card-carrying writers and performers doing bit parts. Every night, the stars of tomorrow debase themselves for our entertainment. This week Doughboy Mike Mitchell ate peanut butter off his hands on Kimmel like he was a big ol’ bear. Jo Firestone came through on The Tonight Show as Miss Backup Ohio to explain girls joining the Boy Scouts: “The boys, they have their Kentucky Derby cars. And the girls, they have their cookies. And when you put them together, that means everyone’s good at knots.” But the crown has to go to Amber Ruffin, who recapped the royal wedding for us in “Amber Says What.”
Busiest Shirt Pattern: Matt Bomer on Fallon
Best Spon: Sarah Paulson for Cartier
Kimmel dedicated an entire sketch to Kia, introducing its two new precocious spokeschildren. It is certainly the most obvious #spon of the week. But obvious spon is not good spon. Sarah Paulson made sure to mention that the necklace they steal in Oceans 8 is Cartier. She drops that name with the deft hand of professional thief. The best spon of the week, though, had to be “Carpool Karaoke” for Porsche. They took that baby onto a test track and watched it hug more curves than any number of disgraced men.
Deadest Horse: Eric Trump
We get it, he’s a worthless piece of shit. But is he really dumber than Don Jr.? More feckless than Ivanka? Less loved than Tiffany? I feel like Eric gets a lot of shit because his pre-Kybella photos are easy to find. In the past week alone, Eric took it on the double chin from SNL, James Corden, and Seth Meyers (twice).
Horniest Anecdote: Jenna Dewan
Gosh, it was a tough race this week. Matthew McConaughey propositioned Mike Mike Myers for a threesome on Kimmel, Kelsey Grammer explained a nude selfie on Conan, and Andrew Garfield told the story of kissing 30 girls at the same party on Colbert. But I gotta give it to Jenna Dewan, who recounted the time Janet Jackson gave her a basket of vibrators. Lucky.
Most Human Host Reaction: Jimmy Fallon Goes Nuts on Andy Cohen
Fallon is known for his toothless game segments. Guests don’t have to bare their soul or even provide the researcher with more than two anecdotes, because a lot of air time will be used for human ping-pong or whatever. But when our host and Andy Cohen (who took that suit off Tom Wolfe before he was even cold) cannot get their minds in sync during a game of “Jinx,” Jimmy absolutely loses it. You can tell he’s joking … kinda. But another part of him has never been so mad in all his life.
Most Meta Moment: David Letterman Interviewing Seth Meyers on Late Night
It was amazing to see Letterman turn the tables on Seth and set up his anecdotes. Letterman segued seamlessly to Seth’s stories about his new child and his deceased surfing-goat-in-law. Dave even demanded money from Ziploc. Because he gave Seth Meyers a live tick, preserved in a Ziploc bag. Dave and Seth talked Late Night history: “My show was lumpy and viscous,” Letterman said to Meyers. “And your show is crisp, and smart, and contemporary. It’s lovely.”