this week in late night

This Week in Late Night: Balls, Balls, Balls, Balls, Balls

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Late night sometimes runs into a problem, a problem that used to occur with alarming regularity under the Trump administration and only happens with depressing regularity under Biden: Sometimes the news is so dumb that it’s impossible to make jokes about. Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls in one such news story. How do you exaggerate a relationship as tenuous as “cousin’s friend”? That’s less than nothing. I’m the friend of a cousin of a model/influencer in Venice Beach. We’ve met; I helped him take modeling headshots. But I could be walking down the street, and he wouldn’t know a thing. Every late-night host had to do #Ballgate, and it was a struggle to distinguish oneself from the sea of swollen testicles on every other network and media platform.

Speaking of balls, the Met Gala! We just piled absurdity on top of absurdity this week, didn’t we? Anna Wintour did her best Kirstie Allie in Drop Dead Gorgeous and put on a gala dedicated to the concept of America. But the fashions at this year’s Gala were like the swollen testes of Trinidad: almost too dumb to mock. Here’s who made something out of the Too Much of this week.

5. “Back When God Was Still Real”

First I want to shout out a joke that just really got me. Speaking on Biden’s vaccine-and-testing mandate, Samantha Bee mentioned that George Washington insisted his troops get inoculated “and that was back when God was still real.” I love jokes like this, not because they are some sort of Ricky Gervais–style edgy atheism, but because they’re world-building, like the Futurama joke that says the last human ghost died in the 2700s. It underlines the absurdity of supernatural concepts by laying 100 percent arbitrary rules on them. Doom Patrol is a show basically made of jokes like this.

4. Stephen Colbert Will See Himself Out

It is rare nowadays that Stephen Colbert has a fluster moment. One occurred September 13, when he briefly left his own stage in shame. Colbert was once again on his “Sex Parties Don’t Exist” soapbox when he took it too far. Apparently during the warmup Q&A, Colbert found out someone in one of the front rows had just turned 18. He asked this poor guy if he’d ever been invited to a sex party, and the schmuck had to be like “I’m here with my mom.” Colbert fucked off from the Ed Sullivan Theater briefly before coming back and asking mom if she’d ever been invited to a sex party. I am begging someone, anyone, to invite Colbert to a sex party, if only to vary the ways in which he embarrasses his audience.

3. Dulcé Sloan Is the Only Fashion Commentator

Everybody had goofs on the wacky fashions at this year’s Met Gala, but only Dulcé Sloan delivered them from her couch — the only correct place to give fashion commentary. And it should only be given by folks in their jim-jams from the comfort of their own homes. It keeps the art form pure. And Sloan’s coverage was the only place that informed me that Kid Cudi and Frank Ocean had the same Arctic Fox Iris Green buzzcuts. Everyone saw Kim Kardashian’s redacted FBI file cosplay, but the Kid Cudi/Frank Ocean convergence? That’s news you can use!

2. The Daily Show Centers Trinidad

We’re double-dipping in The Daily Show this week, but they’ve been off almost all summer. Trevor Noah is back in a new fancy set (but still muddy audio), and he’s the guy really giving the national perspective on Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls. Only Noah roped in CNC3 anchor Jason Williams, who gave the definitive commentary on this moment. And only Noah got Trinidad & Tobago Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to address the issues this dumb fucking story popped off.

1. Amber Ruffin Imagines Transformative Anger

I often joke about being the Sex Pest Database of my friend group. If someone has been alleged to have done something, I will bring it up. It’s not a fun person to be! Every facet of life feels hindered by the existence of alleged predators, even this column. Even the Nicki Minaj balls story is haunted by her husband’s crimes. It looms over everything like shadow people on Coast to Coast AM. That’s what makes this Amber Ruffin Show clip win late night this week: imagining a world where one is fueled by anger and not immobilized by grief. That’s a world I want to live in. It is not this world.

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This Week in Late Night: Balls, Balls, Balls, Balls