As America slowly crawls toward fully reopening, late night is starting to change. This week, a studio audience returned to The Tonight Show, with a vaccinated audience of 58 essential workers. “I’ve never been so excited to do a show for 58 people in my life,” Jimmy Fallon said on March 22. Unfortunately, as Tooning Out the News pointed out last week, a return to normalcy in the U.S. means more mass shootings. Seth Meyers pointed out Ted Cruz’s bullshit on March 25, saying that Cruz was incensed because “during a time of serious crisis, Democrats didn’t even try to go on vacation.” And a big boat got stuck! Nothing brings the fragility of late capitalism into sharper focus (other than, y’know, the past year) than one boat wrecking global shipping for … ever, at the time of publication. Weird is the new normal, and here’s how late night made that work for them.
5. Benny the Butcher Talks Bubble Guts With Desus
How many late-night shows include discussion of courtroom-related stress diarrhea? Not enough, that’s how many! Desus Nice did a solo interview with Griselda Records’ own Benny the Butcher to promote his new album. But the whole thing got off to an atypical-for-late-night start, discussing physical therapy for a shooting Benny survived in November. And during a moment of technical difficulty in the Zoom interview, Benny and Desus shared experiences of police-related gastrointestinal distress. To be brief: When you’re anxious, the body wants to poop out as much weight as possible. That way, you can run away from predators like that one lizard on Planet Earth. The viewing public needs more discussion of bubble guts on TV, to help understand our racist society as well as our disgusting and marvelous bodies.
4. Get Minnie Driver to a Set, Now!
Is there anyone more charming than Minnie Driver? I would argue no. Each li’l anecdote the Speechless star put forward on The Late Late Show was more delightful than the next. She sneaks onto sets whenever she can because she loves showbiz so goddamned much! Pursuant to that, she tried to sneak into the background of Alexander in full Phantom garb! She got repped because her sober rave buddy put in a word for her! And her London teen-boy impression is adorable as heck. Driver was pushing through grief (her mother recently died) to do this interview with James Corden, and she knocked it out of the park.
3. Andy Cohen and Jimmy Fallon Fighting Over Reality Shows
Jimmy Fallon is back before a live audience again, and the energy is UP! The Tonight Show host took advantage of the hyped-up vibe by playing a game with Andy Cohen, where the two had to name classic moments in reality TV based on one second of footage. Nobody gets way, way too into a game like Fallon. And the live audience spurred both him and Cohen on, as the two both claimed total reality-TV expertise. Sometimes you don’t know you’re missing something until it suddenly reappears, and I didn’t know that I missed the frisson of a live studio audience enabling Fallon’s pettiness. Nature is healing.
2. Stephen Colbert Explains Comic Books
Leave it to ur-nerd Stephen Colbert to do the best Snyder Cut take of the week. Colbert inserted himself into the post-credits sequence of the film, where Lex Luthor suggests founding the Legion of Doom to Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke. Colbert subbed himself in for Jesse Eisenberg, playing Luthor with the same li’l stinker energy. Only this time, Colbert poked fun at the identical assassins Deadpool, Deathstroke, and Deadshot. Comics fans have been annoyed by these dudes since the ’90s, when they pulled an Armageddon/Deep Impact on superhero comics. Colbert’s Luthor also took time to explain the IP tango Marvel characters have been going through lately. I, for one, completely forgot about the Fantastic Four movies. Thanks, Stephen, now we’re all JDs in entertainment law.
1. James Corden Wants to Put Every Child on a Horse
I hate to double-dip on a show, but Minnie Driver was so charming in her Wednesday night Late Late Show interview. It had to be acknowledged. But James Corden’s March 22 monologue takes this week’s top spot, as a perfect encapsulation of life nearing the end of lockdown. As the episode got pushed back for the NCAA tournament, Corden was in an even punchier “Who on Earth will even watch this?” mood than usual. He suggested The Late Late Show switch times with CBS This Morning, arguing that they’d have to do it if it were for charity. There’s something fun/brave/timely about Corden’s complete disinterest in what the charity could be, settling on something that gets every kid in America to ride a horse at least once. There are, in fact, organizations that help give inner-city youth the chance to ride a horse. Many such groups rode in last year’s BLM marches, and it’d be cool if Gayle King did a late-night show in aid of that. Even noted clubland vampire Reggie Watts was willing to come to the studio at 4 a.m., if it gets seats on saddles. Make it happen, CBS!
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