The late-night girlies need a break. The gloves are coming off, the edges are fraying, and the vibes are generally off. This week in late night, we saw a lot of hosts on their last nerve. Maybe it’s the trillion-dollar coin’s fault: You’d think these hosts would be used to covering stupid news by now, but something about fixing America’s problems by minting a big shiny coin may be the last straw. Will it be the size of a silver dollar, or big like the one in the Batcave?
Someone on TikTok said that we may not live in the darkest timeline, but we definitely live in the timeline with the most shenanigans. Evidence for this theory — that we are in a cutaway-gag sliver of the multiverse — abounds. The Twilight saga, a Hot or Not ripoff website undermining democracies and inciting genocides, and Really Big Coin are just a few examples. The late-night hosts seemed to be feeling the strain of reporting on joke news more than usual this week. Here are the most unhinged moments, ranked in descending order of hingedness.
5. Seth Meyers Preps for Live Audiences
Late Night With Seth Meyers is one of the last shows to bring back audiences, and you can tell that everyone has mixed emotions about their return. Hearing the crew laugh brings a certain slumber-party chumminess — you feel like the show is getting away with stuff; that was the main draw for Joel McHale’s era of The Soup. Meyers prepped the Late Night monologue writers for the potential chill of an indifferent audience with a surprise inspection. Their worst jokes were read, critiqued, and attributed. As a planned bit, this was the tamest entry on this week’s top five, but you still got the sense that Meyers, his writers, and his crew were getting their giggles out before the real show comes back.
4. Michael Keaton Takes His Time on Late Show
Michael Keaton remains ungovernable. A few weeks ago, his prop comedy won late night. This week, his antics were only the fourth-weirdest thing on TV between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Keaton took an extended walk to the Late Show guest seat, welcoming every audience member of the Ed Sullivan Theater individually. And just like every time Keaton does a talk show, the man refused to sit down. Keaton uses national talk-show time like a stand-up during an open mic: He’s there to workshop material, and there is promise there, so we should let him keep doing it.
3. The Tonight Show Audience Is Split on Facebook’s Downfall
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp’s outage on Monday was a mixed blessing. Some people were glad to get the social-media monkey off their back at any cost, and some were worried all their selfies would vanish in the blink of an eye. Late-night writers generally celebrated at yet another inroad to make ivermectin jokes. But Jimmy Fallon didn’t count on his audience’s ambivalence toward Facebook during his October 5 monologue. When he mentioned the company’s stock tanking, it sounded like maybe one-fourth of the audience applauded it. Fallon disrupted his jokes to react. In his mind, that news shouldn’t be a woo, it should be an aww! Knowing what elicits woos and awws is half of comedy, and this minor disruption was honestly more exciting than The Tonight Show nabbing the cast of Squid Game.
2. Jimmy Kimmel Dares Daniel Craig to Denounce the Queen
Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Daniel Craig for his last Bond outing, and frankly, both men seemed over it. Somehow, a discussion of Craig’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star devolved into Kimmel asking him to denounce Queen Elizabeth, and Craig (a naturalized U.S. citizen) asked which camera he should do it for. But the moment that seemed to break Craig was when Kimmel explained the reason behind discussing stupid shit like there being too many British actors playing American heroes (like Superman and Lincoln). Craig asked if Kimmel had anything more important to occupy his mind with, to which he responded, “Listen, that’s just how we get by. We focus on nonsense, and then we let all the horrible things just wash by until they bury us in the ground and we’re dead.” Like … true, but also, you good?
1. The Late Late Show Crew Squares Up
This list could be all Late Late Show monologues, if we’re being honest. Nothing makes one go, “Hey, is everyone doing okay?” quite like the show CBS has chugging along at 12:35 a.m. The Wednesday night monologue saw Corden demand CBS VP of West Coast late night Nick Bernstein admit that not every episode is good. Then they got into a fight about how long the show takes off in the summer. It was Bravo-level messy. October 5’s monologue was less drama, more “hyper kids not ready to fall asleep at a church lock-in.” An innocent question about whether people are more inclined to a fight or flight response devolved into the whole crew arguing over who would beat whom in a fight. The Late Late Show lost its hinges a long time ago; it will never be hinged again.
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