this week in late night

Eddie Murphy Saying ‘Everything Is Better’ Won Late Night This Week

TFW you meet your personal hero. Photo: YouTube

Well, we did it. We’ve made it to our first (and God willing, hopefully last) quarantinaversary. It’s been one year since the world shifted irrevocably and we were forced to live within the confines of our homes and consume everything that makes life worth living — culture, community, human interaction — through a screen. The fact that we all haven’t gone insane is truly a miracle, and if you have gone insane, it’s okay — we’ve been living through a global pandemic for 365 days. A year ago, late-night television also changed fundamentally as hosts moved their shows from their studios to their homes. Now, a year later, we’re not quite back to where we started, but we’re on the road to recovery. Most of the late-night shows are back in studio with something resembling a studio audience. Let’s celebrate simply surviving this, the one-year anniversary of quar quar.

5. Pete Buttigieg Returns to Jimmy Kimmel Live

Something shifted the night that Pete Buttigieg guest-hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live on March 12, 2020. Even though it was completely coincidental with the panasonic, when Mayor Pete, fresh off of ending his presidential campaign, stepped in for Kimmel on a Thursday evening, I could feel in my bones that something sinister was coming our way. Watching Mayor Pete deliver monologue jokes in his big suit to a laugh track and empty studio audience, all I could think was What the fuck is going on? Little did I know that I would be asking myself that question for a year straight. Hearing Kimmel and Buttigieg reminisce about his guest-hosting stint serves as a reminder for just how clueless many of us were at the time as to what was to come. “I remember how much changed between breakfast and when we actually went on,” Buttigieg said, recalling the decision to pull the plug on the live audience over the course of the day. The Secretary of Transportation’s return served as a fitting tribute to mark the anniversary of the night Buttigieg’s guest-hosting stint opened the gates of hell to the pandemic served as the definitive marker of the beginning of the end.

4. Audra McDonald Is Optimistic About Broadway on Late Night

But we can’t look backwards any longer; we’ve got to look forward. And someone I always look forward to seeing is Audra McDonald. The six-time Tony Award-winner dropped by Late Night With Seth Meyers to talk about her role on The Good Fight and the year we’ve spent without theater. As Tracy Letts eloquently stated in the New York Times, the toll that the pandemic has taken on the theater community is truly devastating, and even now it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Sports are back (Did they ever really leave?), malls are open (Did they really ever close?), but it’s still so unclear when I’ll be able to quietly sob at the sheer magic of live theater, and that’s absolutely not fair. Haven’t theater kids been through enough? But seeing McDonald’s optimism about the future of theater and the forthcoming (?) 2020 Tony Awards gives me hope. McDonald shared her excitement at “the fact that we’re even having a Tony Awards” while also paying respect to the late, great Terrence McNally, the playwright who wrote Frankie and Johnny in the Clare de Lune — which earned McDonald her ninth (9) Tony nomination — who died of COVID-19 almost a year ago. Geez, we’ve lost so many along the way. But if McDonald, the world’s most decorated theater actress, says there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the theater community, then there’s a light at the tunnel. “The Glamorous Life” awaits.

3. Tooning Out the News Takes on Piers Morgan

Why watch the news when you can watch cartoons tell you about the news in a concise, hilarious way? The Stephen Colbert-produced animated series Tooning Out the News brought its typical brand of absurd yet incisive political satire on Friday, March 12 summing up a week chock full of bombshell news stories. Mere hours after Biden’s address regarding his signing of the new COVID-19 relief bill, the toons of The Establishment, Tooning Out The News’s right-wing panel of Washington insiders, were all over it. “First rule of politics: Never make the poor well-fed enough to kill you,” said a distraught panelist. They then quickly moved on to the fall of the British empire and one former Good Morning Britain TV anchor’s reaction to it. Of all the ways one could describe Piers Morgan, “Harrods dressing room bench sniffer” absolutely takes the cake. “If 99-year-old Prince Philip dies within months of this interview, Meghan Markle will have blood on her hands,” said a panelist with a superimposed image of the purple Prince Philip on the screen. The fact that human guest, Minnesota Senator Tina Smith, told a torso-less statue of Piers Morgan that he needs to “settle down a little” was just icing on the cake of another deliciously bizarre edition of Tooning Out the News.

2. Roy Wood Jr. Teaches a History Lesson on The Daily Show

As we get ready to travel to other countries again, it’s important to remember various geo-political alliances and feuds around the globe. Thank goodness for Roy Wood Jr. and his “Geography You Can Use” segment on the special “Remotely Educational” edition of The Daily Show, which aired on Wednesday, March 10. Wood presented a veritable who’s-who of who hates who around the globe, but knows better than to provide context, because he doesn’t want Kyrgyzstan in his mentions. Take it from me, a person who made a tongue-in-cheek joke about Harry Styles in a blog post the other day: Stans in your mentions are absolutely exhausting. Wood did explain the beef between Ghanians and Nigerians, which is actually about rice: “Fortunately, centuries of colonialism have made both countries too poor to afford a nuke, so it don’t really matter that much.” God bless the Queen! Wood shared that Turkey is, as I’ve always assumed, the “NeNe Leakes of Europe” and gave sage guidelines about geo-political relations: “If there are two countries with the same name, they definitely hate each other.” Wood ended, of course, with the Good Ole’ U.S.A. “I’mma give it to you straight kids,” Wood Jr. said as he took off his glasses and looked directly to camera. “Every other country hates us. They all hate us. Some of them we invaded. Some of them we overthrew. Most of them we bombed. Some of them we saved from the Nazis, so I don’t know why they mad? But it is what it is.” Give Roy Wood Jr. a show on the History Channel, or better yet, an incredibly popular YouTube channel so that he can educate the masses.

1. Reggie Watts Earnestly Asks Eddie Murphy a Question

But we all know that the only thing more powerful than hate is love. And Reggie Watts on The Late Late Show With James Corden was filled with love for guest Eddie Murphy. Eschewing his classic cool guy/absurd question master vibe, Watts took the time to genuinely tell Murphy what a profound impact he had on his life and career. Watts recalled the first time he heard Murphy’s comedy special Raw on a class trip with his music friends and what it meant to him. “We just sat around the speakers, like six nerdy orchestra kids, losing our minds, and that inspired me to get involved in drama,” Watts told Murphy. Getting involved in drama and mimicking Murphy led to Watts getting into stand-up comedy, which is his entire career, so it’s not a leap to say that Murphy’s Raw changed his whole life. Usually Watts asks a completely absurd, zany question to The Late Late Show guests to end the show, but this time, clearly bowled over by the chance to get to talk to his idol, he asked Murphy a serious question about the state of comedy movies today. After talking about his love of the film Beverly Hills Cop, Watts asked Murphy, “Do you think we’ll ever get back to that version of that greatness?” But Murphy disagreed with the idea behind Watt’s question. “I think movies are better now than they were back in the old days,” Murphy said. “I think everything gets better. Not just movies — I think everything is better … Everything is better.” One year into our quarriversary, and the best is yet to come? We love to hear it.

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Eddie Murphy Saying ‘Everything Is Better’ Won Late Night