this week in late night

Ben Schwartz’s Broken Mug Won Late Night This Week

Ben Schwartz and Stephen Colbert. Photo: YouTube

You know what this column isn’t going to have much of? Slap discourse. Amber Ruffin did the best dramatic reenactment, and Jimmy Kimmel gave a former host’s take (which was useful), and that’s that on that.

I think because NBC’s The Slap took up so much monologue space, the guests really shone out this week in late night. Samuel L. Jackson came to Desus & Mero post-Governor’s Ball, and John Oliver explained the unexplainable on The Tonight Show: that his son’s favorite song is “Under the Bridge.” Coincidentally, Oliver’s main topic on Last Week Tonight was harm reduction. And Machine Gun Kelly discussed ayahuasca on Jimmy Kimmel Live. But the best segment of the week was drug free, unless you think chili dogs should be a controlled substance.

5. Rachel Dratch Is Seth Meyers’s Teri Garr

Rachel Dratch came into Late Night With Seth Meyers at very late notice and smelling of onions. Apparently a guest canceled, and the Meyers crew got Dratch to fill in. But not before she’d started making chili. She described what she was doing as Teri Garr-ing, in reference to when Garr would fill in for missing guests with David Letterman. And she Garr’d admirably. It’s nice to see old friends catch up and chat about the dumb shit their kids do. Dratch’s appearance may have lacked the oomph of someone who’d been prepping for a TV spot for days, but it had heart.

4. Taylor Tomlinson Re-Parents Herself

Sure, Taylor Tomlinson appeared on The Tonight Show mainly to promote her Netflix special, but it was also to make me jealous of her leather jacket. Beyond the fashion, Tomlinson had a fresh take on the notion of re-parenting yourself as a frazzled, single self-mother. It’s always exciting to hear a subject addressed that you haven’t heard before, and tackled in a way that also feels fresh and new. Also, that jacket. Fuck.

3. Hannah Gadsby Inhabits Her Mother

Speaking of being your own parent, Stephen Colbert interviewed Hannah Gadsby as her own mother on The Late Show. It was a devastating portrayal of a person who doesn’t seem to have a lot of room to express things like affection or pride in her offspring, but plenty of contempt for people that have their own names on their mugs. It makes sense that Gadbsy has been able to weather negative criticism and probing discourse of her act. She’d already gotten an earful of it at home.

2. The Late Late Show Gets Bangs

Graphics departments are the unsung heroes of late night. Without their Photoshop skills, so many jokes would go un-punchlined. The team at The Late Late Show worked their magic quickly on a bit about people who dither about getting bangs. It wasn’t clear whether the graphics team already had pictures of James Corden, Ian Karmel, and Nick Bernstein with bangs or if they paused taping for 20 minutes or so to whip something up, but the results were worth it. It’s the way curly girls Karmel and Bernstein had ironed flat bangs. A bone-chilling image.

1. Ben Schwartz Throws Chaos at Stephen Colbert

The improv one-upsmanship in this interview, it’s almost sexual. Neither Ben Schwartz or Stephen Colbert seem willing to give an inch to the other in the scene. Schwartz keeps trying to pimp out Colbert (in the improv sense — meaning, set them up for a joke they aren’t coming to organically) by making him name characters from the Sonic-verse. The two keep moving mugs and paper around the Late Show desk like it’s a weird free-jazz version of chess. This bit culminates with Schwartz’s mug getting hurled to the ground and broken. It was weird, it was chaos, it wasn’t entirely clear how planned any of it was. A perfect topper for Slap Week.

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Ben Schwartz’s Broken Mug Won Late Night This Week