this week in late night

Representative Jamaal Bowman Educating an Uninformed Mom on BLM Won Late Night

The representative educated Bootsie Plunkett with patience and care. Photo: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube

Spring has sprung in New York, friends! JK, the all-knowing groundhog dictated that we will live in a winter wonderland for the foreseeable future, but it has been unseasonably warm the past few days and you can feel the air of possibility and change all around us, even in the late-night universe. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has returned for a new season on HBO; Jon Stewart announced the showrunner and head writer for his upcoming Apple TV+ show; and Peacock’s The Amber Ruffin Show has booked the A Little Late With Lilly Singh time slot on NBC for the next two weeks, opening up her (wonderful) late-night sketch show to a wider audience. Stop frantically checking your email to see if your Jon Stewart packet got you to the next round (fingers crossed) and check out the top five late-night clips of the week.

5. Comedian Kenice Mobley Does Stand-up on The Tonight Show

We’re approaching the yearlong mark of a little thing I like to call quar quar; as such, it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen (or done) stand-up comedy in the flesh and, randomly, I find that I miss it. That’s why it was such a joy to see comedian and podcaster Kenice Mobley do an honest-to-God tight five on Monday’s Tonight Show. Coming to you from the rooftop of the New York Comedy Club, Mobley cracked jokes about the struggles of being horny amid a pandemic (“The second all this is over, I’m making out with everyone, okay?”) and made some very funny and reasonable connections between slave ownership and naming your pet a human name, like Stephanie. As someone who’s done and watched their fair share of Zoom comedy shows, it was refreshing to see a talented up-and-coming comedian do their set with a real live audience, even if the audience response was a little lackluster at times. For the record, when a comedian asks you a question during a set, we want you to answer it. Don’t be shy! Unless you are going to say something stupid and/or heckle us. In that case, please shut the fuck up :)

4. John Oliver Lays Into Ted “Cancún” Cruz on Last Week Tonight

The crown prince of late night has returned to his throne. After a brief hiatus, John Oliver recently returned to his great white void for the new season of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, and thank goodness he got back in time for Ted “Cancún” Cruz’s escapade. In an episode devoted to the subpar working conditions in meatpacking facilities, Oliver found time to comment on Cruz’s mini-vacation, in which he flew to Cancún with an oversize carry-on to “drop off his daughters” as hundreds of Texans had no heat or electricity due to unprecedented winter storms across the state. “I mean, that’s just incredible,” Oliver said, truly shocked at the absolute depravity of Senator Cruz to both abandon his constituents amid a crisis and then blame his young daughters for doing so. “Ted Cruz — who, remember, wants to be president — told the world he was bullied into international travel by tweens, then got cyberbullied into coming home by the internet, leaving his wife to solo-parent two kids on vacation in another country while trying to figure out who in her mom group doxxed her. It’s all amazing.” What’s more mind-blowing is the fact that Cruz is already making jokes about the whole thing, despite the fact that multiple Texanssome of whom were children — died in the storm. Hope those 24 hours of sunshine were worth it.

3. Andy Samberg Sends Colin Jost a Dick Pic During Late Night With Seth Meyers

Please keep the Gen-Z TikTok PC police at bay, but whenever I hear the words “dick pic,” my ears immediately perk up. What can I say, nobody’s perfect. So, I will say that I was immediately intrigued when I heard that former SNL cast member Andrü Spamblerg (a.k.a. the Golden Globe–nominated star of Palm Springs whose name I misspelled in this column once and pledge to never again spell correctly as long as I live) interrupted current SNL Weekend Update host and head writer Colin Jost’s interview with former SNL Weekend Update host and head writer Seth Meyers on Late Night. Wow, is that enough SNL for you? Anyways, Colin Jost was minding his own business promoting (the not very well-reviewed) Tom and Jerry when Meyers informed him that Andee Stanburp would like Jost to check his phone. He then proceeded to send him a series of text messages that Jost read aloud with his camera off, effectively sabotaging and grabbing the interview right out of Jost’s hand. At the end of the series of texts, he asked “dick pic?” and it’s unclear whether he wanted to send one or receive one, until he clarifies “get or send.” Wow, you gotta hand it to that Algee Slambourg — he really knows how to commit to the bit.

2. Prince Harry Spills the Tea on The Crown on The Late Late Show With James Corden

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times: It always amazes me the level of talent James Corden has access to on his show. On Thursday, the Carpool Karaoke King proved this once again by having Prince Harry on the show for an extended interview that saw the Brits have tea on top of a double-decker bus, visit the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air house, and do a military-style obstacle course. What started out as a fun romp of an interview actually became quite serious when Harry opened up about his feelings on your mom’s favorite show The Crown. “Of course, it’s not strictly accurate,” Prince Harry said of the show, which the royal family has said is strictly fictional, for the record. “It gives you a rough idea about that lifestyle — what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else and what can come from that.” Okay, so maybe it isn’t as fictional as the queen is making it sound. “I am way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing stories written about my family or my wife or myself,” Prince Harry continued. “That is obviously fiction; take it how you will. But this is being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.” Wow, so Prince Harry is more into The Crown than he is into the Daily Mail, and he gave that scoop to none other than Corden, master of karaoke and, apparently, hard-hitting journalist. What can’t Corden do? (Answer: convincingly play a gay man onscreen.)

1. Representative Jamaal Bowman Educating Bootsie Plunkett on Black Lives Matter

Wow, I must say, Black History Month has really flown by. It’s almost as if it’s the shortest month of the year or something. Soon, all the brands, websites, and corporations will hang up their Black Power and Black Lives Matter flags and swap in their pink pussy hats and copies of The Feminine Mystique as Women’s History Month begins on March 1. But what happens after Black History Month ends? How can we keep these vital conversations going outside the designated 28 days a year that we have to discuss systemic racism in America?

The “Uninformed Correspondent” segment from Thursday night’s episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert might be a good place to start. In the segment, a well-meaning but underinformed field producer’s mother, Bootsie Plunkett, travels to the Bronx to learn a little bit more about the importance of Black Lives Matter. She admits at the top that she’s said “All Lives Matter” before, got screamed at, and didn’t know why. While that obviously made me fully cringe, it was clear that she was coming from a place of ignorance and not malice and genuinely wanted to understand what she did wrong. After a hilarious, expletive-filled first attempt at introducing the segment, Bootsie sat down and had an open, honest, and sometimes uncomfortable conversation with Bronx representative Jamaal Bowman about the difference between saying Black Lives Matter (yes!) and All Lives Matter (no!).

To all the Black people reading, if anyone asks you, “WhY iS SaYiNg ALL LiVeS MaTtEr BaD???????” you no longer have to take a heavy sigh and get ready to launch into the complete history of racism, slavery, imperialism, and colonialism in America and the world at large. Instead, thanks to the generosity of spirit of Representative Jamaal Bowman, you can direct the question-asker (who may honestly have good intentions!) to this video and say, “Watch this and educate yourself.” As Bowman said with such incredible patience, “All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.”

Bootsie and Bowman were able to ultimately connect over their shared love of music and culture — which, guess what, mostly revolves around Black artists, specifically Cardi B’s “WAP.” However small the interaction might have been, it felt like knowledge was gained on Bootsie’s part, and a genuine connection was formed between Bootsie and Bowman, which would make a great name for a sitcom, come to think of it. Bootsie and Bowman Take the Bronx, coming to CBS in fall 2021.

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Jamaal Bowman Talking About BLM Won Late Night