this week in late night

Wellness Hags Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak Won Late Night This Week

Photo: Late Night With Seth Meyers/YouTube

Stonks. Some people have ‘em. Some people don’t. Everybody wants ‘em. Basically, a ragtag bunch of Redditors spent the week utilizing the power of collective action to create the very first “meme stock” bubble, which led to Wall Street hemorrhaging billions of dollars to cover their losses, triggering trading apps like Robinhood to block citizens from participating in the “free” market. Congratulations, if you understood that last sentence you have officially graduated from one of America’s top business schools with really good grades. If not, thats okay — just know that the whole thing was so crazy that it got former Daily Show host Jon Stewart to finally join Twitter. As for our current late-night hosts, everyone still seems to be adjusting to things in this post-Trump era. Let’s check out the best late-night moments of the week and remember to buy low, sell high.

5. Jared Leto Loses His Academy Award

Do you know where Jared Leto’s Oscar is? Because he doesn’t. The infamous method actor stopped by The Late Late Show to promote his new film, The Little Things, where he plays, per Wikipedia, a “strange man who is suspected to be a killer.” Wow, I’m sure he was an absolute joy to be around on set. If you’ve been wondering what Leto’s been up to since he literally didn’t realize we were in a global pandemic because he was on a two-week silent retreat, he’s been rock climbing in Nevada with professional rock climber and Free Solo star Alex Honnold. When asked by James Corden if he ever free solos, Leto said, “Sometimes you have to climb without ropes; it’s part of the gig.” Spoken like a true method actor. While Leto regaled Corden with a story about how he and Honnold almost died, the most shocking moment came when he revealed that he has no idea where his Dallas Buyers Club Best Supporting Actor Oscar is. Almost dying while climbing mountains without ropes is one thing (that kind of is expected, actually), but losing your Oscar? Now that’s crazy. Can’t wait to find out what Joe Biden’s plan is for finding Jared Leto’s Oscar and then giving said Oscar to that year’s rightful winner, Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips. Do you remember one line Leto said in Dallas Buyers Club? No. Do you remember “I am the captain now”? I rest my case. Anyway, we hope Annie Hathaway is ready to take on some crazy.

4. Nicole Byer’s Hospital Band and Sexy Burger Outfit on Conan

It’s been a minute since a Conan clip made its way onto the list. After announcing that his 28-year streak of serving up nightly late-night content will come to an end in June, Conan O’Brien took a bit of a hiatus at the end of 2020. But now he’s back on air, and he’s back on the list thanks to his interview with the lovely and talented Nicole Byer. The Emmy-nominated comedian and host of Nailed It also had an unexpected thing happen to her at the end of 2020: She fell down the stairs and broke her ankle. She showed up on Conan fresh out of surgery, still wearing her hospital bands (“I forgot to take them off”), and shared that because she was more or less out of commission due to her accident, she’s been going wild with online shopping and getting dressed up just for the hell of it. One of her most recent purchases was a “sexy burger costume,” which more than lived up to its name. “I do think I’m gonna wear it pole dancing and then put a nice jaunty McDonald’s tune under it,” Byer told a clearly amused O’Brien. “Like ‘Ba da ba ba ba.’Yeah, I’m loving it.

3. Wendy Williams Spills the Tea on Herself on WWHL

I’m kind of like Marie Kondo in that I love mess. Because of this, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Wendy Williams, queen of the Hot Topic, despite whatever NeNe Leakes is saying about her to Page Six. So, when Williams dropped by Watch What Happens Live and started spilling the tea on herself, I was all in. When talking about Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams and her messy split with her-ex Dennis the Hot Dog King (if you don’t know, get into it), Williams ended up speaking off-the-cuff about her own incredibly messy divorce from her former manager Kevin Hunter, who famously had a daughter named Journey with his mistress at the end of their marriage. “Porsha is still an eternal gullible when it comes to Dennis, unlike people feel as though I am with … Kevin,” Williams said. Okay, shots fired, and also, we’re listening. Williams revealed that she knew about her ex-husband’s mistress for “just about the whole 13 years that they were together.” Cue Andy Cohen and I going slack-jawed in tandem. Somehow, Williams was able to reveal this intimate detail and still shade the mistress, calling her a “less than smart” bottle girl who “had the nerve” to say that she admired Wendy. Woof, methinks that I’ll be tuning in to Wendy Williams’s Lifetime movie after all of that.

2. Celebrities Doing Shots to Celebrate Guillermo’s Birthday on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Okay, I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve never been a huge fan of the short, ethnic sidekick schtick in late-night television, particularly because I am a short ethnic man myself. I didn’t love it on Chelsea Lately (but RIP Chuy), and I don’t particularly love it on Jimmy Kimmel Live re: Kimmel’s right-hand man Guillermo. While optically it might be no bueno, given the shows’ tendencies to make these sidekicks’ race the butt of the joke, I am willing to believe that the friendships between the late-night hosts and their sidekicks are deep and real, and that the Chuys and Guillermos of the world aren’t just in on the joke, but have legitimate agency regarding the bits and ultimately laugh all the way to the bank.

That’s why I was able to find some joy in watching 50+ celebrities down shots in honor of Guillermo’s birthday on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Now, we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill, C-minus, Who? Weekly celebrities like [redacted] and [redacted]. We’re talking Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Snoop Dogg (who doesn’t drink but said he’d smoke 50 blunts instead), and many other bona fide A-listers, who all downed a tequila shot, Guillermo’s favorite, and wished him a happy birthday. It was a bizarro version of Gal Gadot’s “Imagine” video, and so much better in every way. Highlights included Matt Damon’s chyron reading “Actor” and Lionel Ritchie’s chocolate statue of Lionel Ritchie, and lowlights included Joel McHale downing a dry egg because he’s doing Dry January (lame) and Sean Penn’s whole vibe. Sigh, I sincerely hope each and every celeb who made a video would attend Guillermo’s birthday party in person if it weren’t for a pandemic.

1. Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak Introduce Us to POOG on Late Night With Seth Meyers

Yes, watching A-list celebrities do shots is fun, but to me the real A-listers are former Brooklyn-based alternative comics who have gone on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry based solely on the sheer strength of their unique sensibility, sharp intelligence, and incredible comedic timing. That’s why the top spot belongs to two of my absolute favorite comedians, Jacqueline Novak and Kate Berlant, who appeared on Late Night to talk about their wellness podcast POOG. Now what is POOG, you ask? Some say it’s a feeling. Other’s say it’s a state of mind. Most would tell you that it’s actually GOOP spelled backwards. But whatever POOG is, it is absolutely not a parody of Goop or the wellness industry writ large. Novak and Berlant are true believers. “The wellness industry — some people see it as maybe a terrifying symptom of late capitalism. We see it as an opportunity to just kind of try different serums,” Berlant said. As any former econ major knows (I was an English major), late capitalism is all about stonks and serums. Berlant and Novak’s repartee explaining their podcast to a bewildered Seth Meyers is so effortlessly hilarious — so much so that Meyers can hardly get a word in edgewise, and that’s by design. “We are deeply interested in interruption as a form of rapport,” Novak said. “We celebrate interruption. If we let you get a word in, Seth, that will be exciting.” Cut to me writing “celebrate interruption” on my 2021 Intentions List in the Notes app on my phone.

When Meyers was finally able to ask a question, he asked the pair whether they enjoy receiving free products to try. And, reader, if you can believe it, they do. “Yes — in a word,” Berlant shouted. “I want to be clear,” Novak chimed in interrupted. “Wellness involves almost any product. I don’t want anyone with a product that they could send to hesitate thinking it’s not wellness. Anything can be wellness, whether it’s a tonic, a potion, or a window dressing.” Wow, who knew that wellness — like a family — can look like anything. Wellness is also all about how you frame things, even things that you’re literally allergic to. Berlant, who is still wrestling with her relationship to “the poetics of dairy,” has found that by simply reframing cheese as wellness, it no longer ails her. “I, for years, thought Oh, I can’t be eating dairy. It’s breaking me out,” she said, “but then I repurposed cheddar as a vitamin for myself. I told myself when I was eating cheddar, This is bringing me pleasure, so it has to be good for me, and guess what? Haven’t had a breakout eating dairy since.” Truly inspiring stuff. Shaman Durek, Gwyneth Paltrow’s spiritual leader who appeared on one (1) episode of Bling Empire, needs to watch his back. Novak and Berlant are coming for his gig.

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Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak Won Late Night This Week