Another week passing means there’s another round of late-night television to rank! The shrewd among you may have already noticed that your typical late-night bit ranker, the ineffable Bethy Squires, is no longer writing this column. She has moved onto bigger and better things, and I,
Senator Chris Murphy, am here to pick up the pieces in her wake. Do not fret, for I am an expert in ranking late-night television bits because 1) I often got in trouble for staying up past my bedtime in middle school and 2) I was cut from an episode of Law and Order: SVU, so let’s just say I know a thing or two about TV. Seriously, like a commercial for Allstate or someone being gently rocked to sleep by Christina Hendricks, you’re in good hands. But enough about me! Let’s tackle this truly bonkers week in late-night television, shall we?
This week provided an embarrassment of riches for our late-night hosts. An Iowa was (poorly) caucused! A Romney went (sort of) rogue! A Lil Wayne drew a picture of popcorn shrimp while wearing a VR headset (more on that later). While there were many jokes about the State of the Union as well as the literal state of the union, there were also some delightful, bizarre, hilarious moments that had us laughing in spite of ourselves. Without further ado, here’s the best that late night had to offer this week as judged by
a jury of your peers me.
5. Andy Cohen Grills the Navarro Cheerleaders
Leave it to Andy Cohen to make stone-cold Monica blush! Andy had some fan favorites from Navarro College’s cheer team — UTA’s newest client Jerry Harris, Gabi Butler, La’Darius Marshall, and coach Monica Aldama — bartend on Watch What Happens Live Thursday, January 30. Yes, I am aware that “technically” January 30 was last week, but, to use a phrase I have always wanted to use but have never had the chance to until now, I am the captain now. We learn so much from Andy’s rapid-fire questions: People definitely hook up on the team, and Monica definitely knows about it. Lexi was in some serious legal trouble, but has come out the other side. Ben Platt, Snooki, and J.J. Watt have all slid into Jerry’s DMs, so now I can’t stop imagining the four of them getting dinner together. What would they talk about? I wonder …
4. Samantha Bee Teaches the World About Dental Therapists
While Full Frontal had some expectedly great political coverage this week, the segment that really got my attention was about the importance of dental care. On Wednesday, Samantha Bee really broke down the need for dental care to be taken more seriously in our health-care system while simultaneously throwing it back to classics like “David After Dentist” (I missed that crazy kid!) and exposing how weird cartoons of teeth with teeth are. As someone who does not currently have dental insurance, this was both funny and informative! P.S. Some states have licensed dental therapists, which is (almost) the same thing as a dentist, but cheaper for patients. Imagine how different my life could have been if I knew there was someone affordable I could call when my teeth got sad.
3. Lil Wayne and Claire Danes Play VR Pictionary
You gotta hand it to Jimmy Fallon: What he lacks in political incisiveness he sure makes up for by having the most random pairings of people do the strangest things. On Wednesday, Fallon brought back the game “VR Pictionary,” where he and Lana Condor faced the classic pair of [checks notes] Lil Wayne and Claire Danes. Honestly, I would have bet Adam Sandler Uncut Gems money that I would never see Lil Wayne and Claire Danes in the same room, and yet here they are, wearing VR head sets, drawing popcorn shrimp and mechanical bulls for each other during Pictionary, getting along swimmingly. Seeing them work together on an insane, pointless task really made me smile, and sometimes that’s enough. Also, Lil Wayne absolutely has no idea what Harry Potter looks like, and I celebrate that.
2. Andy Sandberg Is a Sensitive Bully
In the latest installment of the Late Night With Seth Meyers segment “Second Chance Theatre” that aired this week, Andy Sandberg dropped in to play Griff Banks, a sensitive bully. As the week was chock full of news about bullies, it was refreshing to see one take center stage and realize that on the inside … he’s just a puss. Strong supporting performances by John Mulaney, Kenan Thompson, and Amber Ruffin helped turn this truly bizarre sketch (seriously, what is a “gaping snorf”?) into something delightful, absurd, and weirdly relevant given the nightmare of a week we’ve had.
1. Jim Carrey’s Jazz Funeral for Democracy
Stephen Colbert has been firing on all cylinders with his impeachment coverage. From his live show after the State of the Union on Tuesday to his opening monologue after Trump’s acquittal on Wednesday, he’s managed to be a rare mix of funny, smart, honest, and sincere in a time where it’s hard to be any one of those things. That being said, the moment that won the week has got to go to the one and only Jim Carrey for his truly unbelievable (and historic!) entrance on Late Show. Carrey entered the show on the day of Trump’s acquittal with a full second-line band featuring Jon Baptiste and Stay Human and proceeded to engage in a New Orleans–style funeral procession throughout the theater. It was wild. It was unhinged. It was cathartic. Yes, Jim Carrey redid his most famous film lines as though he were an understudy in Shakespeare in the Park, but his entrance was next-level. The “dance of freedom” from that clown movie has got nothing on Carrey and that second-line band.