this week in late night

Late Night’s Impeachment-Palooza

Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. Photo: YouTube

Late night was truly on one this week. Impeachment seems nigh, and hope is finally breaching the alligator-infested and laser-defended moats of cynicism. There was a manic glee in late night this week, and even the apolitical bits had an energy we haven’t seen since the sillier gaffes of Donald Trump’s inauguration. It’s well-established that Trump is terrible for comedy, and even the prospect of not having to deal with his nonsense anymore hyped the hosts immeasurably. Let’s look at who was the most gleeful.

5. Stephen Colbert’s Colosseum

No one was more ready for this news cycle than Stephen Colbert’s audience. They have been braying for impeachment since the live election results show in 2016. Colbert’s Monday monologue felt like people getting psyched for a major sporting event, or gladiatorial combat. There was even a dancing plague-doctor mascot. The vibe was infectious, much like the plague.

4. Samantha Bee Checks in With Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar continues to be an unbothered badass. Full Frontal spoke to the congresswoman about not getting fair credit for calling for impeachment way before it was fashionable, and she handled the tonally buckwild interview with aplomb. Bee’s interview tone felt a little off (especially the moment where she crushed on AOC in a piece about how Omar is constantly overshadowed), but Omar radiated charm and even had the nards to say Biden wasn’t her pick for Democratic nominee.

3. Desi Lydic Is Incensed

Speaking of Joe Biden, The Daily Show pointed out how silly it is to waste presidential corruption on getting intel on Toothy Joe. “He’s wasting his one impeachment on taking down Joe Biden. Joe Biden will take down Joe Biden! The guy’s already gaffed himself out of two elections.” But what clinched the piece for me was Desi Lydic’s miming of Pac-Man giving a blowjob. It’s this kind of hard-hitting political analysis that made The Daily Show the primary news source of college students during the Bush years.

2. Chris Hayes Explains It All on Late Night

When you want more historical context and less blobber-jobber talk, come to Chris Hayes. The MSNBC host regularly stops by Late Night With Seth Meyers, in part because they work in the same building. Hayes explained why impeachment proceedings became inevitable once it became clear that Trump was already working on rigging 2020. He’s a clear and concise communicator. Or maybe I pay better attention to Hayes than other commentators because he looks like the Muppet News anchor, someone I trust implicitly. As a bonus, Seth Meyers pointed out how weird it is that Trump keeps calling a phone call “perfect.” What does that even mean?

1. James Corden Goes Off the Rails

Even on this super political week, the best thing on late night had nothing to do with Trump. Or did it? James Corden, Jonathan Van Ness, and Allison Janney did a cringe comedy sketch about choo-choos. Working on bad intel from his research team, Corden had concocted an elaborate and extremely expensive train knowledge quiz for alleged locomotive experts. Neither Janney nor JVN know anything about trains. What follows is someone spinning out of control and desperately clinging to their original conception of how life was going to go. It was bonkers performance art, and weirdly on-theme with a week about Trump refusing to acknowledge even the most basic of facts about the world around him.

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Late Night’s Impeachment-Palooza