this week in late night

Rita Moreno’s Saucy Vibe Won Late Night This Week

Moreno on The Tonight Show. Photo: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

You know that part of Love Actually, during the infamous cue-card scene, when Rick from The Walking Dead says that at Christmas you tell the truth? Is that a thing? Has this been a Christmas tradition, ever? Because for late night this week, Hanukkah was when you told the truth. There were so many earnest pleas this week: James Corden gave a choked-up tribute to Sondheim, Trevor Noah spoke clear-eyed against the Omicron travel ban, Colbert went deep and schmaltzy with Peter Jackson on Get Back, and Jimmy Kimmel stuck up for Fauci. This latest variant has people feeling very raw. The fatigue has set in.

Existential dread bumped up against festive party vibes, as it does every December. That’s the psychological underpinning for all the midwinter twinkling light festivals. Jimmy Fallon started his annual Christmas sweater thingy, and we got to see a diversity of electric menorahs. My favorite was Ian Karmel’s, which had a nice flickering effect. Here’s who else shone this week on late night.

5. The Daily Show Says ‘No’ to the Travel Ban

The Daily Show said what we were all thinking this week. Roy Wood Jr. expressed our collective “ENOUGH!” vibe with regard to Omicron, and Noah called out the hypocrisy and inefficacy of a travel ban to stop the new variant. Banning travel from Africa but leaving countries like Israel and the U.K. out of it seems mostly useless. And? Looks racist. Noah deftly balanced the jokes and annoyance with our policies. Starting what seemed like it was going to be an impassioned plea for seeing Africans as human beings actually kicked off with “First of all, COVID is a hoax.” It was a truly dumb joke that (1) shocked his crew, who laughed in surprise, and (2) allowed for more genuine ire at the ban.

4. Seth Rogen Explains His Presence at Adele’s Concert

Many people watched Adele One Night Only and went, “Wait, Seth Rogen is there?” Another person who was confused by Seth Rogen’s presence at the Adele TV special was Seth Rogen. Apparently, Rogen thought he was just going to a normal-ish Adele show. Little did he know he was being plonked in the front row of a CBS special. On The Tonight Show, Rogen explained his experience of the Adele concert, how he was too high and got wrapped up in “performing” enjoyment rather than enjoying the concert, and how he was completely baffled about how he got better seats than Leonardo DiCaprio. Look, you’ve got an expressive face, my dude. They wanted that front and center. Congrats.

3. The Late Show Makes Some Hanukkah Magic

Hallmark Christmas movie jokes are dead. The time has come for capitalism to ruin some other holidays. The Late Show invented a whole host of Hanukkah movies, utilizing all of the holiday’s spellings. I’m most looking forward to A Hanukkah Carol and The Eight Knights of Hanukkah, which seems quite horny in premise. All eight, you say? Not enough Christmas movies have poly vibes.

2. Kathy Griffin’s Triumphant Return

Kathy Griffin is cancer free! This is exciting. Griffin is coming out of a dark time: cancer, canceled, roped into that Yashar Ali profile. But now she’s booked and busy, cancer free, and married. Griffin talked about how zoomer gays think they’ve discovered her, getting married by Lily Tomlin, and how doctors always pitch jokes to you when you’re a comedian. Kimmel basically just let her riff for her allotted time. Did he ask questions? I’m not sure; I wasn’t paying attention to him. Why get in the way of Griffin on a run? Some of the best Kimmel segments are the ones where he lets go and lets God. If you’ve got a good booker, that’s half the battle won.

1. Rita Moreno Flirts With Fallon

Rita Moreno implied that Jimmy Fallon might get a hard-on by spooning her onstage. Imagine that confidence, always assuming people are erect at the very thought of you. Incredible. Moreno was on The Tonight Show to promote West Side Story, wearing the dress she’d worn to the premiere the night before. She made sure to namedrop the designer and jeweler because she is what? A goddamn professional. Moreno walked the audience through the trials and travails of filming “America” back in the ’60s, when she had to wedge her foot between George Chakiris’s butt cheeks in order to stay on his shoulders. More talk-show stories should end with Rita Moreno’s foot up someone’s ass.

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Rita Moreno’s Saucy Vibe Won Late Night This Week