this week in late night

A Pile of Hair in Billie Eilish’s Pocket Won Late Night This Week

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Seth Meyers brought live audiences back this week — and don’t worry, he’s still wearing sweaters. It’s been fascinating seeing which parts of COVID-era late night are sticking around, and which parts are getting jettisoned. Meyers kept the causal look and long hair, James Corden kept that raucous staff, and pretty much everyone is still interviewing people remotely. Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Zach Galifianakis in his car, in a field. Apparently it was the only place in all of Canada with reception?

Speaking of remote Canadians, William Shatner went into space this week. Didja hear? Every host that was on this week (CBS shows were off) had a take on Esperanto’s biggest proponent’s confrontation with the deathlike ice black of space. But only Jimmy Fallon actually got the interview. The Tonight Show has been killing it lately with Big-Get Guests. Last week, it was the Squid Game cast; this week it’s Shatner. Can’t wait to see who’s newsworthy next week. But until then, here are the best late-night clips of the week.

5. Jenifer Lewis’s Tough Love

The Problem With Jon Stewart is still figuring out what kind of show it wants to be, and this was an interesting use of their fucking-around-and-finding-out time. Stewart & Co. enlisted Mother of Black Hollywood Jenifer Lewis to try and talk some sense into people who feel “oppressed” by having to wear a mask. Except Lewis delivering one-liners (with impeccable timing and panache, btw) isn’t going to convince anyone on the other side to drop the Poor Me act. This is entertainment for the choir, which is fine! The choir deserves some yuks. It’s just the clearest example of how comedy has evolved/morphed since Stewart’s previous reign. You just can’t both-sides stuff anymore. There are way too many sides for that to work.

4. Late Night: Amber Ruffin Sings!

Amber Ruffin is doing double duty on NBC late night. Not only is she hosting The Amber Ruffin Show on Fridays, she is still pulling focus on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Ruffin did a sing-talky recap of every irreligious thing Trump ever did on Late Night in a bit that got funnier the longer it went on. The best part was whenever the camera would cut back to Meyers, who just stared blankly as the bit keep going, and going, and going. Trump really did make four years seem like a millennium, which is probably how Ruffin managed to pack what felt like 1,000 years of heresy into one song.

3. Martin Short Roasts Jimmy Kimmel

Guests dominated Jimmy Kimmel Live this week. Larry David came on and was aggressively Larry David to Kimmel, which very nearly took the No. 3 spot. But we have to give it to Martin Short, who is in week 287 of Only Murders in the Building promo and still going strong. Short came solo, explaining that Steve Martin wanted to come, but he “had a conflict with not wanting to be here tonight.” Short laid into Kimmel, calling him an anti-vaxxer, and third-best compared to Fallon and Colbert. It was gorgeous. “No one pretends to care about people more than you,” Short told the host, who ate it up. Kimmel was similarly nasty to Leno the one time he was a guest on The Jay Leno Show back in the day. Kimmel probably wished Leno had been as appreciative a target as he was for Short: Everyone had fun and nobody got hurt.

2. Amber Ruffin Introduces Peak Wally

Sorry, Ghost of Don Pardo, there’s a new beloved elder of 30 Rockefeller Center: Wally the Cue-Card Guy. Wally does the cue cards for Saturday Night Live, Late Night With Seth Meyers, and The Amber Ruffin Show. And it was on The Amber Ruffin Show that we were introduced to Wally’s coziest vibes. Like Peak Leaf season, Peak Wally season displays Wally in his full autumnal splendor. He wears chunky sweaters, Knives Out–style. He writes jokes about pumpkins, and he’s crisp and clear like a November morn. World-building on these shows is (1) funny, and (2) humanizes the crews that give their lives to content. We need all the Wally time we can get before the IATSE strike.

1. Billie Eilish Steals a Fan’s Hair

Jimmy Kimmel helped Billie Eilish check some things off the bucket list she made when she was 12 years old. It could have felt weird. We could have been left with questions like, Why are we checking things off her bucket list? Is she dying? Is her whole career an Imminent Death Syndrome thing? No, she’s good, that can’t be it. But Eilish is too weird to let something run on autopilot. One of her bucket-list dreams was to cut someone’s hair. A fan, Griselda (like the Monkees song), volunteered to get bangs from the pop star. First, Eilish made sure to get full-throated consent from Griselda for the haircut. Then, after giving the fan pretty decent curtain bangs, she shoved the shorn locks right in her pocket. Eilish straight up took a fan’s hair, then punched Jimmy Kimmel in the stomach. That’s TV right there!

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Some Hair in Billie Eilish’s Pocket Won Late Night This Week