this week in late night

Michaela Coel’s Tragic Story About Pokémon Go Won Late Night This Week

She’s simply in a league of her own. Photo: Courtesy of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

Okay, who do I talk to about the weather? Everyone in New York is aware of what I’m talking about, but for the readers who do not reside here, let me set the scene — unbearable heat mixed with 98% humidity, plus the occasional thunderstorm that is so loud that I’ve had no choice but to hide under my covers, like a von Trapp child, waiting for it to end. It’s terrible. Obviously, this is not a column about the weather, but I do feel that it has played a hand in the lackadaisical, slow, somewhat lazy pace of late night this week. There were lots of snooze-worthy interviews with just a few bright moments, listed below. Nevertheless, the late-night hosts made the most with what they were given so, I guess, we will too.

5. Greta Thunberg Donates Her Humanitarian Award

The ever-inspiring climate-change activist Greta Thunberg stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and, quite honestly, I’ve never seen a late-night guest so calm, cool, and collected. Thunberg, who recently won the first-ever Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, was so chill while chatting with Colbert about her activism that it led to him make some brutal dad jokes in an awkward attempt to connect with the youth. When discussing the €1 million that Thunberg won (and is donating to humanitarian efforts cc: @JeffBezos), Colbert literally said, “that’s a lot of Euro Euro bills y’all.” Thunberg did not so much as crack a smile. She also fully called out all the hypocritical rich people who attend Davos (cc: @JeffBezos and friends) for inviting her to speak, applauding her, and then doing absolutely nothing to change their behavior and address climate change. Say it loud for the people in the back, Thunberg! Greta also gets an email during the Zoom interview that you can tell she wants to read, but refrains from reading for Stephen’s sake. What a polite activist.

4. The Daily Show Warns Of Gen-Z Superspreaders

Speaking of Gen Z, The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah tackled a problem that everyone around the world is facing: What the hell are we gonna do about reopening schools? As if I weren’t scared enough of teens as it is, now you’re telling me that they can pass along the virus at the same rate as adults with a considerably lower probability of getting seriously ill from the disease? Gen Z is too powerful and I, for one, do not appreciate it. Noah brought up some real concerns that parents and teachers have about schools reopening — concerns that a lot of politicians are simply refusing to consider, and which have led a teachers union in Florida to sue the state for forcing them to go back to school. As someone whose mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother all work (or have worked) in schools, I would definitely be less than pleased if they contracted the coronavirus because some teen refused to wear a mask while making a TikTok video during Algebra 2.

3. Andy Samberg Drinks a Cup of Water on Conan

Funny man Andy Samberg virtually dropped by Conan at Largo to discuss his Netflix film Palm Springs. Rocking a pair of Apple headphones with the wire to prove that he’s down to earth, Samberg discussed executive producing the movie before O’Brien played a clip of Samberg dancing — quite hilariously — at a wedding. However, after the clip aired, O’Brien revealed that he and Samberg didn’t get to see any of the clip. In a normal late-night setting, the guest, host, and audience all watch the clip together and laugh, but in these awkward days of Zoom interviews and audience-less shows, the clip is added to the show in postproduction. Sorry, but I’m a sucker for whenever an illusion is shattered. When the magician pulls up the curtain, I will gasp every time — and this was no exception. After revealing this bit of production magic, O’Brien had Sandberg act as though it were a typical late-night show and react as though he had actually seen the clip from Palm Springs, overlaying audience applause. Samberg nailed it, humbly sipping his water the way many late-night guests do after being forced to watch a clip of themselves acting. It was truly uncanny.

2. Joy Reid’s Puns on Late Night With Seth Meyers

Did you know that Joy Reid loves puns? Well, she does. The newly minted night anchor for MSNBC stopped by Late Night With Seth Meyers to discuss her new show, The ReidOut, and all the various punny names it almost had. Apparently, Reid the Room was an option, which I personally like better, but is definitely worse for hashtags than #TheReidOut. Off the top of my head, here are some other things Reid could have named her show: Reid Between the Lines, Reiding for Filth, Reider’s Digest, and Reid U Wrote U. Had she picked one of those incredible puns for her television show, she may have garnered the top spot on this list but, alas, she clocks in at number two. I also would be remiss if I did not mention that I met her at the birthday party of a *celebrity* (flex), and she was super nice and we took a picture together. I then went to CVS, printed out the picture, and used it as the centerpiece of my gift for my family’s annual white elephant Christmas event, because that’s the type of person that I am (read: the type of person who is a bad gift-giver).

1. Michaela Coel Talks Dancing in the Park and Pokémon Go on The Tonight Show

I almost felt bad putting Michaela Coel at the top of this list because she’s already been on the cover of our magazine, but then I remembered Julia-Louis Dreyfus has seven Emmys, so I got over it. The brilliant creator, writer, and star of HBO’s I May Destroy You tops the list this week for chatting with a cardigan-clad Jimmy Fallon about dancing in the park, sexual assault, and Pokémon Go. Coel is so naturally charming and honest that she’s able to broach incredibly serious and painful topics, such as sexual assault and rape, in a frank yet open way. She does this week in and week out on I May Destroy You, and she did it again on Thursday night during her interview with Fallon.

In the interview, Coel talked about how she’s been dancing in the park with strangers in London of late, before moving on to talk about the semi-autobiographical elements of her show. She also spoke about her writing process and unique tone, revealing that she never tries to make things funny, but rather comes back to her own experiences for inspiration. She recalled the moment in her own life when she was in the police investigation room, preparing to give her witness statement about her assault, and realized that the police officer she was speaking to was playing Pokémon Go on his phone. “It’s rape and Pokémon Go. And I don’t know what to do with those two things,” she told Fallon while laughing, aware of the absolute insanity of the situation. It’s the ability to find the absurd in life’s darkest moments — to explore both sides of the fine line between comedy and tragedy — that has made I May Destroy You so amazing and Coel the breakout star of the summer. She’s truly in a league of her own.

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Michaela Coel Won Late Night This Week