this week in late night

Amber Ruffin Advocating for White History Month Won Late Night This Week

We hope you were taking notes on this Amber Ruffin segment in your White History Month Trapper Keepers! Photo: The Amber Ruffin Show/YouTube

How about the big game? Who dat, Drew dat, am I right? I’m joking, obviously, but wouldn’t it be nice if literally anyone else won the Super Bowl other than Tom Brady, a noted MAGA hat-wearer and friend of Donald Trump? Speaking of Trump, he’s currently undergoing Impeachmentpalooza 2021, and boy, oh boy, is it not off to a great start for the former president who has been banned for life from SAG-AFTRA and Twitter. Between all the athletic sports and political sports, late-night television had a lot to play with (badum ching!). Time to tally the scores and see who came out on top this week in late night.

5. James Corden Coaches the Weeknd on His Super Bowl Halftime Performance

I shouldn’t be surprised by the people Mr. Carpool Karaoke is able to get on his show, but time and again I find myself gobsmacked by the level of talent he’s able to draw. Case in point: James Corden’s Monday night Late Late Show segment with halftime headliner the Weeknd. For eight unadulterated minutes, Corden ran around a soundstage with the Weeknd in that god-awful red suit and black shirt helping him “train” for his performance. While a lot of it was exactly what you’d expect, there were some pretty funny bits peppered throughout, specifically one where Corden tried to teach the Weeknd how to project. Given how subpar the sound quality was during his performance (he sounded like he was singing underwater), he really could have taken a tip or two from Corden. Seriously, who was running sound at the Super Bowl? Bruno Mars? Anyway, it was both fun and triggering watching the Weeknd do football drills, as someone who got a severe concussion playing JV football in high school. And, not for nothing, the choreography Corden came up with for the Weeknd actually could have been kind of useful during his performance, which was sorely lacking in that department. More “Zazz” next time, Abel!

4. Trevor Noah Argues Biden’s the Worst President We Can Remember

I know it’s only been two weeks, but have we ever had a president worse than Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.? Trevor Noah made a pretty convincing argument that we haven’t in his segment “Joe Biden: The Worst President in History We Can Remember” on Monday’s The Daily Show. Highlighting the coverage Biden is receiving from conservative outlets like Fox News, Noah hilariously pointed out the absolutely insane lengths some news sources are willing to go to make Biden look like he’s already tanking the presidency. The most salient and most ridiculous example of this has to be the criticism Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki received for cracking a joke at the expense the Space Force. “A hundred years from now, the Space Force will be one of the most important parts of our military,” said a Fox News correspondent who probably doesn’t believe in climate change. Honestly, how dare Psaki make fun of and belittle the Space Force, a very crucial, very important branch of our military! I lost my great-grandfather in the Great Space War of 1912. Don’t look that up because that’s not true. But still, I could have lost my great-grandfather if he served in the Space Force and that’s the point. For shame, Jen Psaki, for shame.

3. Vanessa Bayer Channels Whitney Rose and Lisa Barlow on WWHL

There are some performances that are so deeply felt, so dropped in, so undeniably fully lived in that they can’t be denied. They deserve something more than awards, more than laurels, more than acclaim. On Wednesday’s Watch What Happens Live, superb comedian Vanessa Bayer delivered one such performance when she channeled both Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Lisa Barlow and Whitney Rose during their “free tequila fight.” In a segment called “Clubhouse Playhouse,” the former SNL actress channeled the polar-opposite housewives, delivering a one-woman show that would give Holland Taylor’s Ann a run for its money. While Bayer, who was there to promote the absurdly hilarious Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, did a wonderful job channeling the baby-voiced, ex-Mormon pole dancer Whitney Rose, where she really shines is her portrayal of New Yorker turned Mormon tequila swiller and Diet Coke enthusiast Lisa Barlow. “What Whitney does with the necklace I gave her is up to her,” Bayer says while impersonating Barlow, perfectly mimicking her wide-voweled delivery and abrasive energy. “If I give you a Chanel necklace and you choke on it, that’s your problem, not mine,” she added, turning “mine” into a three-syllable word. In a word, perfection.

2. Salma Hayek Says She Broke Into Owen Wilson’s House Before They Met on The Late Late Show

Hollyweird is truly a crazy town. So crazy that two A-list celebrities that you assume would be good friends can go 25 years without ever meeting, even though one has been to the other’s house. This is the story of Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson, who dropped by The Late Late Show to plug their new film, Bliss, which marks the first time that the actors have ever worked with or met each other, despite sharing a ton of friends in common. Hayek shared a truly delightful story about how she broke into Wilson’s house while celebrating their mutual friend Woody Harrelson’s 25th birthday. Woody, apparently, doesn’t like to use air-conditioning at his house (that scans, for some reason), and his party guests were positively dripping with sweat. “Even the Mexicans were melting in his place,” cracked Hayek. Harrelson apparently had the bright idea to hop the fence and break into his buddy Owen Wilson’s house next door while he was out of town on a shoot and hold the rest of the party in there. Did Harrelson have Wilson’s permission? “I think it was breaking and entering,” Wilson admitted. Sounds like my kind of party.

1. Amber Ruffin Schools Us on the Need for White History Month

Happy Black History Month to all who have decided not to opt out. Like clockwork, the cries from racists across the country began to ring out on February 1, lamenting the fact that they had to think about Black people for 28 days in a row. “But whyyyyy must we have a Black History Month,” they shout over their Morgan Wallen playlists, “when we don’t even get a White History Month?!” Rather than the classic, tried-and-true answer of “Every month is White History Month, you racist numbskulls,” Amber Ruffin offered a different, more nuanced response for them: We actually are in desperate need of an accurate and honest White History Month.

In her segment “How Did We Get Here?” from last Friday’s episode of The Amber Ruffin Show, Ruffin opened up the presents under the ceremonial Black History Month Tubman Tree and dropped a can of knowledge whoop-ass on our asses. Did you know George Washington had 18 slaves before he even turned 18? Or that Abraham Lincoln advocated for and supported the notion of Black people being inferior to white people? Facts like these have been very purposefully obscured and erased from our history textbooks thanks to groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and serve as a compelling case for why we need a full month dedicated to the many, many atrocities committed by white people over the course of U.S. history. “So yes, let’s have a White History Month. Let’s have 12 of them. Otherwise we’ll never learn information that’s crucial to understanding our own country,” said Ruffin. As usual, she’s absolutely right. The world needs to know about the slave patrol–to–militias–to–Revolutionary Army–to–police–to Confederate Army–to KKK pipeline. And where does that pipeline lead in 100 years? You guessed it: the Space Force.

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Amber Ruffin on White History Month Won Late Night This Week