Late night went live again this week for the second round of Democratic debates. While guesting on Late Night With Seth Meyers, John Oliver said it was a bad idea. Oliver still feels it’s a little too soon for anyone to start thinking about 2020, but CNN would beg to differ. Hosts got to work on their Bernie impressions for night one and wished they could bring back their Bernie impressions on night two. The Bernie impression is a key point in the late-night arsenal now: If you play him too angry, it falls right into Tim Ryan’s tone policing. If you go too old, that’s a play for young heartthrob Pete Buttigieg. But even guests turned out bravura performances on late night this week. Here are the five best:
5. A Young Maude Apatow Gives Jennifer Hudson a Run for Her Cats Money
Li’l Maude Apatow made her talk-show debut on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Colbert attacked her not only with clips of her parents negging her on TV, but with footage of a younger Maude destroying as Grizabella. The heartbreak, the longing! You really believe 10-ish-year-old Maude is an ancient cat.
4. Tituss Burgess Express Distress
Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen is a fraught show. It’s Cohen’s job to ask stars to divulge juicy gossip. It’s stars’ jobs to deflect those requests as charmingly as possible. Cohen has to ask, even if he thinks he won’t get a response. Well, Tituss Burgess wasn’t having it on Sunday. When asked how working with Eddie Murphy went, Burgess had nothing bad to say. This was despite Cohen’s note that Murphy hasn’t always been a big supporter of “the gays.” Burgess mouthed something to his team, and later took it to the ‘gram. Burgess called Cohen a “messy queen,” which, to be fair to Andy, is basically the dude’s job description.
3. Betty Gilpin Sings!
This was a platonic ideal of talk-show-guest behavior. Betty Gilpin told the story of feeling like a nobody in front of 7,000 Marvel fans in Hall H with aplomb. Gilpin’s got jokes! But more importantly, Gilpin’s got the weirdest impression I’ve seen in recent memory. Gilpin crafted an Ella Fitzgerald–Louis Armstrong duet impression when she was an extremely high 17-year-old. And on The Tonight Show, she took us to a parallel world where the jazz greats collaborated on the Britney Spears opus, “Oops! … I Did It Again.” This is now the weirdest thing about that song, even weirder than the Titanic reference in the music video.
2. Goldblum Goldblums It Up
Drop the Mic may be its own show now, but occasionally James Corden brings the bit back to The Late Late Show. This time Jeff Goldblum dueled bars with the talk-show host and was so dang Goldblum-y about the whole thing. The weird voice he does when he says he’s going to eat Corden’s lunch made my skeleton eject from my body. Then he started throwing shapes? Sometimes you need someone to take the piss out of a bit to give it new life.
1. Seth Meyers’s Live Postdebate “Closer Look”
Seth Meyers was extremely loosey-goosey on his live postdebate show. The “Closer Look” segment felt thrown together in the best way. Rather than choose one joke about Tim Ryan getting served by Bernie, Meyers did a run and let them compete for applause like a mad emperor. His vibe reminded me of Dean Martin, making a referendum on the jokes as he read them. Nobody can make reading cue cards look fun like Seth Meyers. But most importantly, Meyers asked the question of the year: Is Marianne Williamson jazz?