this week in late night

John Oliver’s Sex Blanket Won Late Night This Week

John Oliver and the Venus Veil. Photo: YouTube

Something fascinating about late night this week was how unnewsworthy a week it was. It was announced that New York would convene a new grand jury to look into Trump’s business dealings, and the late-night hosts were like, “Yeah, and?” We’ve all been through this dance so many times, not even the people who have to come up with timely jokes every night could be roused. The jokes, instead, were about how unlikely it was that this grand jury would amount to anything.

That’s not to say it was a totally uneventful week. The season finale of Tiny Secret Whispers completely switched the genre of the show, which is huge. Dave Grohl co-hosted The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The two sang into the same microphone, which was only mildly bone-chilling after a year of COVID safety precautions being hammered into our skulls. And Ziwe interviewed Andrew Yang, whose complete inability to be humbled or cowed posed a real challenge for the Showtime host. How do you shame the unshameable? It’s the problem of our age. Here’s what worked best in this weird news week.

5. The Late Late Show’s Corporate Synergy

Andrew Rannells made the rounds on late night this week, appearing on The Late Late Show and A Little Late With Lilly Singh. On Corden, Rannells talked about his brief flirtation with being a late ’90s club kid, and girl, same. Who among us didn’t see Party Monster and think, I would simply murder anyone for ketamine, then come up with a high-concept makeup look? Rannells’s club kid look was a shirt that read “HOOKER 2000” and that Debbie Harry complimented. But the best moment with Corden was when he acknowledged the main reason he’d had the whole Black Monday crew on the show was because Showtime and CBS are owned by the same company. As every media company buys every other company, it’s nice to see a late-night host help us all learn media literacy.

4. Amber Ruffin Turns Marjorie Taylor Greene Into Pennywise the Clown

Cecily Strong’s Marjorie Taylor Greene is already the stuff of legend, so it was ballsy for The Amber Ruffin Show to try a take on her. Ruffin’s “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” co-host Jenny Hagel found a way, though. Hagel leaned into the implied violence of Taylor Greene, serving Bill Skarsgård Pennywise in her performance. Hopefully it’ll be a recurring impression. Or not, because the real hope is that she’ll stop being noteworthy enough to do an impression of her. But if Marjorie Taylor Greene has to be a person, Jenny Hagel should keep dunking on her.

3. Late Night’s Single-Issue Mayoral Candidate

America should not have to care about the New York City mayoral race. Fun fact: Most people do not live there! But Late Night With Seth Meyers found a way to dial into the specific weirdness of New York with a fictional gal running for mayor on one platform: to be able to see the abandoned subway stop under City Hall. Weirdos that got into urban exploration in the early aughts (me) and/or watch too many Insider infotainment YouTube videos (also me) know all about the secret and almost certainly cursed MTA stations, and it’s nice to finally see a politician who gets it.

2. BTS Shows You How Fingers Work on The Late Show

Fresh off their McDonald’s menu triumph, BTS stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to let Americans know all the cool Korean hand gestures. Unsatisfied with merely introducing the finger heart, the K-pop group introduced such gestures as “someone stole my pogo stick” and “summon Stephen Colbert from the void.” J-Hope may think Conan O’Brien is named Curtain, but we can bet he knows Colbert now.

1. John Oliver Punks Local News, Summons George Clooney

Speaking of summoning folks, John Oliver can summon George Clooney with a snap of his fingers. Oliver illustrated that in his May 23 episode, which looked at all the sponsored content on local news. Apparently you can just buy local news coverage for your snake-oil faux-medical nonsense. Which is exactly what Oliver did. The Last Week Tonight team “invented” some sort of blanket that magnetizes your pussy back into fighting shape and managed to get it on local news stations across the country. It was nice to see Oliver and company get back to stunt journalism. They’re truly the heirs apparent to Nellie Bly, who got herself institutionalized in the 19th century to expose the inhumane conditions of the mental institutions of the day. Plenty of content this week was funny; only one show managed to affect corporate policy on news stations.

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John Oliver’s Sex Blanket Won Late Night This Week