this week in late night

Obama’s UFO Talk Won Late Night This Week

Obama and Reggie Watts. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube

This week on late night, it was all about apologies — who made them, and whom was owed them. The Late Late Show had to walk back its aggressive courting of swag, because CBS senior VP of late-night West Coast Nick Bernstein got a talking-to from sales. Ziwe apologized to everyone in her audience with fat mommy milkers. John Oliver called out Israel’s social media for trying to make bombing into a meme. And the WLW audience of The Late Show is owed an apology from Stephen Colbert for not knowing that we’re known for comfortable footwear. Hellooooo, Tevas?

Movies are back, according to Arnold Schwarzenegger, and so is movie promotion on late night. Eric Bana made the rounds in support of his Australian thriller, proudly proclaiming on The Tonight Show that he did fuck-all during quar. Bana did The Tonight Show and The Late Late Show in the same week, something that was verboten during the late-night wars. But now that every late-night show is friends with every other late-night show, guests can spread across platforms with wild abandon. Here are the moments that stuck out this week, between apologies and cross-network promotional efforts.

5. 21 Savage Flies Above “True Confessions”

Fallon’s Tonight Show, which has been picked up for another five years, relies heavily on stars playing party games. “True Confessions” is the show’s version of Two Truths and a Lie. Guests read a statement from an envelope, which is either a true or false factoid about them. Jimmy and the other star then have to interrogate them about the statement, trying to catch them in a lie. Unless you’re 21 Savage, in which case you just kinda go, “Yeah, that sounds right.” No follow up, not playing along, not knowing who Gisele Bündchen is, Savage was a hoot. Also, he’s getting his pilot’s license, which is neat. 21 Savage will soon be a pilot, yet Twenty One Pilots remain on the ground. Makes you think.

4. Matty Matheson’s Birth Story on A Little Late

Lilly Singh said she’s going to use what time she has left on NBC to cram our airwaves with Canadian celebs. In service of this goal, Singh had dirtbag chef extraordinaire Matty Matheson on to play some air hockey. Between own goals, Mattheson explained the joys of home birth to Singh. His wife has had two, and Mattheson has caught the baby at both. “I get close. And then she’s like ‘Get away,’ and I get away. And then she’s like ‘Come close,’ and I come close. And then she’s like ‘Frozen grapes!’ I’m like ‘Frozen grapes!’” he said. “She’s like ‘The BROW! The sweat is overcometh,’ and I’m like ‘pat pat pat.’” Vice should give Matty his own show explaining the health issues of today.

3. Patti Harrison Makes Apologies on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Patti Harrison and Jimmy Kimmel are a weirdly perfect comedic duo. It’s like Steve Martin and Selena Gomez or Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg before that got annoying: two tastes you didn’t think would go together but do. Kimmel just sets up Harrison to go off, and she does. Harrison went on Jimmy Kimmel Live May 19 to ostensibly promote her movie. Instead, she gave a gripping play-by-play of the time she got kicked off Twitter for impersonating a bi-phobic Sia, doing a social-media takeover of Nilla Wafers. Harrison makes a profound argument for why comedy needs context, an argument that is borne out by how bonkers the previous sentence reads for someone who isn’t extremely online.

2. Seth Meyers Interviews the Cue-Card Guy

Action Bronson was supposed to appear on Late Night With Seth Meyers Wednesday night. But he didn’t. Instead, Seth wound up interviewing his cue-card guy, Wally Feresten. Wally is the cue-card guy on Late Night as well as Saturday Night Live. While chatting with Meyers, he went into his cue-card gift business, as well as the time Charles Barkley pranked the SNL cast by pretending to blow up at him. It was a cute and informative use of time that would have otherwise been wasted by the negative space where Action Bronson should have been. Good save, Wally!

1. Obama Deflects and Reads on The Late Late Show

Obama’s May 17 appearance on The Late Late Show was an excuse for people to break character. The former president read Ian Karmel to filth for asking a softball question, not his usual style. And Reggie Watts, who usually asks a surreal non-question at the end of every show, used that time to ask Obama a real question: Are aliens real? Obama confirmed that there’s weird shit in the sky, but refused to confirm or deny whether any of that weird shit was aliens. Obama said he suspected Watts was deflecting from his own extraterrestrial nature with his line of questioning. But referring to Men in Black is itself deflection! Obama could spin spaying to a cat, he’s that good.

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Obama’s UFO Talk Won Late Night This Week