this week in late night

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s Double Act Won Late Night This Week

Fonda and Tomlin on The Late Late Show. Photo: The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube

This week in late night was marked by the announcement that James Corden is leaving the chat-o-sphere soon. Corden dropped the news just before his Thursday broadcast, and it was met with … well, what any James Corden news is met with online. He may be Twitter’s punching bag, but people do watch Carpool Karaoke. Surely they exist. And the show’s monologue section has become one of the most fun in late night. It has morphed over these plague times into a very silly, irreverent hangout — almost more like a podcast taping than anything Carson ever did. Who will take over for Corden? What’s he gonna do now? Things are up in the air. But with the TV landscape morphing and merging every day, things are always up in the air. Here’s what bits landed this week.

5. Seth Meyers Brings Back the Dunce Cap

The highlight of every “Back in My Day” is the prop work. The pipe smoking, the stuffed dog, and this time a dunce cap for a stupid writer with dumb jokes. Seth Meyers highlighted the one aspect of the Slap that went underreported: G.I. Jane is hella old, and why is anyone doing a reference to it anyway? Ian Morgan should be ashamed! Anyway, bullying is bad, but dunce caps removed from their original context are good. Like ear horns, they’re a thing that only show up in cartoons and cartoon-like contexts, and that’s fun.

4. Harvey Fierstein Reminisces

Harvey Fierstein’s new memoir has gotta whip ass if it’s anything as breezy and confessional as his late-night appearances promoting it. Fierstein stopped by WWHL with fellow New York mainstay Matthew Broderick to reminisce about going to a gay bar together. Fierstein also explained why he gave up cruising shortly before the AIDS crisis shook the world and stole so many lives. Spoiler: It involves a Colette quote and jerking off multiple guys at the same time.

3. Quinta Brunson Fears Magicians

Quinta Brunson stopped by The Tonight Show and told a tale of woe and horror and David Blaine. Apparently the Pussy Posse–adjacent magician “did magic to” Brunson somewhat against her wishes. Magicians are not to be trusted, and Blaine should look for more enthusiastic participants for his magical nonsense. Here’s hoping Abbott Elementary gets picked up for ten more seasons so Brunson can keep being charming on talk shows for years to come.

2. Mo Amer’s Flag Day

Mo Amer gave a gorgeous Jimmy Kimmel Live! debut interview, and while fasting for Ramadan, no less. That’s impressive. Both Amer and Kimmel were working on very little sleep, having taken a red-eye back from Jon Stewart’s Mark Twain Prize ceremony that morning. Amer told a great story about getting one over on a racist when he worked at a flag store. It’s a testament to Amer’s charm that (1) the story doesn’t come off as braggy, and (2) the racist flag guy didn’t twig to what he was doing.

1. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s Sage Advice

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are GOATs. This is undeniable. They worked their crotchety platonic life-partner schtick for all it was worth on The Late Late Show With James Corden, giving sage advice about phone sex and sports commentating to Corden’s staff. The whole episode is cute, with the two bickering and getting raunchy in equal measures. Tomlin even forgets at one point whether she’s Grace or Frankie. Tomlin told Reggie Watts (in response to perhaps his only sincere question ever) that Grace and Frankie has given her the gift of not caring anymore. Tomlin not caring is worth ten other people trying their hardest, any day.

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Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin Won Late Night This Week