this week in late night

Late Night’s 2018 Thanksgiving Food, Ranked

From The Late Late Show With James Corden. Photo: CBS/YouTube

Thanksgiving was this week, the one holiday a year when even celebrities are allowed to eat food. Cooking segments are a late-night staple, and this holiday treats us to the vision of various men in business casual trying to use a whisk. Food wound its way into almost every late-night show this week, with varying levels of interest. Busy Tonight had cooking segments almost every episode, whereas Jimmy Kimmel Live could only muster up a sponsored sketch for Barefoot Wine.

I judged these food segments on three criteria: yum factor, celebrity zeitgeist capture, and corporate synergy and sponsorship. Yum factor is self-explanatory. Celebrity zeitgeist capture refers to how famous and relevant the guest is. (Tiffany Haddish’s sweet potatoes are going to rank higher than Mindfreak Criss Angel’s MindFudge.) Corporate synergy/sponsorship is also pretty self-explanatory – most people are plugging something when they guest on a talk show, but it’s particularly ham-fisted during food segments – sometimes with real ham.

6. The Late Late Show With James Corden: James Wanna See It

Yum: 0, Celeb: 6, Spon: 0
Total Score: 2

The bottom half of this list barely counts as food content. Rather than full-on cooking demos, they are sketches that happen to mention food, and “a Dozen Gregs” isn’t really even a food. Some may call Greg Kinnear a snack, but DO NOT get it twisted: If you eat Greg Kinnear you WILL go to jail.

5. Jimmy Kimmel Live: Barefoot Wine Sponsored Sketch

Yum: 4 , Celeb: 4, Spon: 10
Total Score: 6

Again, barely a food sketch. One cannot live on Barefoot champagne alone. Lord knows I’ve tried. But it was slim pickings on Kimmel this week. He only aired two new episodes, one of which was a star-studded ad for the charity brand RED. Fun fact: Did you know that RED spent $100 million on advertising in its first year, and only gave $18 million to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS? But that was Monday’s show. On Tuesday, Guillermo is put in a weird outfit to sell things yet again. He was supported in this effort by Tituss Burgess, Cecily Strong, and Chrissie Fit.

4. Busy Tonight: Ike Barinholtz’s Nuts

Yum: 7, Celeb: 4, Spon: 8
Total Score: 6.3

Finally we’re to the cooking demos! This recipe looks tasty as hell, almost enough to overcome my distaste for “deez nuts” jokes. The corporate synergy/sponsorship rating seems abnormally high – Ike Barinholtz is not selling these roasted nuts, he didn’t plug a cookbook – until you remember that he’s plugging a Thanksgiving-themed movie. Anything holiday-related is ridiculously on-brand for him. And any demonstration of friendship towards Busy is ridiculously on-brand for her. Busy’s show is all about candor. The more genuinely chummy her show is, the more value it accrues. Plus she must get a kickback for those Mr. Nightgowns. They are like $300 and I still want one.

3. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Tomato-Feeding Robot

Yum: 5, Celeb: 7, Spon: 8

Jimmy Fallon was shown a bunch of robots, one of whom feeds you a tomato when you jog? I don’t know why this segment happened, but I am so glad that it did. The celebrity zeitgeist capture ranking is high for this segment, because alienation from the flesh is in right now. Also Sophia the Robot feuded with Chrissy Teigen on Twitter. You’ll notice in the segment, Sophia pronounces it “Tee-gan” not “Tie-gan,” so maybe the beef is still on. And you’ll also notice that Fallon did not question the fact that Sophia has Saudi Arabian citizenship, which may erode the very concept of citizenship and human rights. Anyway, that duet was fun.

2. Late Night With Seth Meyers: Antoni “Cooks”

Yum: 6, Celeb: 8, Spon: 8
Total Score: 7.3

Food expert, thirst trap, and conspiracy theory magnet Antoni Porowski stopped by Late Night to tastefully curate some Thanksgivingy dishes from his New York City restaurant, Village Den. He offered Seth a pre-blended smoothie, then created a grain bowl with turkey. YOU WILL NOTICE THE TURKEY CAME PRECOOKED. I do love a date smoothie, though.

1. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert: José Andrés Fights Trump with Booze & Eggs

Yum: 9, Celeb: 4, Spon: 9, Bonus Woke Score: 10
Total Score: 8

This segment had it all. Fancy boy eggs, a cocktail that’s mostly fog, many references to how Colbert and Andrés are better people than the president, and the set briefly caught fire! The spon factor was high: Andrés got to promote his book and his restaurants, and Colbert got to promote his book, the proceeds of which go to Andrés’s disaster relief organization. Plus, they put caviar on the eggs. Eggs on eggs! We can all be thankful for such redundant extravagance.

Late Night’s Thanksgiving Food, Ranked