this week in late night

Jerrod Carmichael’s Surreal Life Won Late Night This Week

Carmichael on Late Night. Photo: Late Night with Seth Meyers/YouTube

Hey, we got a new Supreme Court justice! That’s nice. Most of the late-night shows took a moment to celebrate the good news before plunging right back into the bad. Samantha Bee was the most bifurcated, doing a little shriek of joy before launching into a carefully considered look at the GOP’s latest trend: calling people pedophiles.

It was a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of week in late night. Matthew Broderick went on Late Night With Seth Meyers to promote Plaza Suite … then Sarah Jessica Parker got COVID, forcing the show to cancel performances. Jimmy Kimmel made a Will Smith slap joke about Marjorie Taylor Greene … then she called the cops on him. The Jimmies celebrated last week’s April Fool’s Prank … but Tariq wished Fallon had stayed in L.A. But some bits were true home runs.

5. A Standing Ovation for Brussels Sprouts

James Corden could not stay on his Late Late Show staff’s good side April 5. Everywhere he turned, insubordination. First, he and co-head writer Ian Karmel got into it about brussels sprouts. Did you know that previous generations hated the shitty little things because they had certain enzymes that tasted bad? But we, as stewards of the land and sea, selectively bred out whatever tasted like ass in them. Now they’re gastropub staples! Karmel and I find this factoid very moving; Corden, less so. His staff gave the brussels-sprout fact a standing ovation if only to miff the host. Then he was getting sassed by drummer Guillermo E. Brown? No respect. No respect at all.

4. Stephen Colbert Celebrates His Bandleader

Stephen Colbert got to shower additional praise onto his bandleader, Jon Batiste, who won five Grammys over the weekend. Batiste discussed the surreal moment when he wasn’t quite sure he’d won Album of the Year, as well as his recent wedding. This was an adorable segment. Colbert was beaming like a proud papa, and Batiste was glowing. Whether that was from pride or his gorgeous jacket, however, is TBD.

3. Emil Wakim Opines on Pumpkin-Spice Hummus

It is a ballsy move to open your Tonight Show debut with a joke about the Israel-Palestine conflict! It’s always nice to see stand-up on The Tonight Show, which used to be the kingmaker for comedy. Even if it’s only a smaller part of the ecosystem now, a late-show debut is still a big deal. Wakim used his to talk about the failings of “y’all” as a second-person plural for the English language and the experience of getting bullied as an Arab American only for pumpkin-spice hummus to be invented. Oh, how the turn tables, etc.

2. Amber Ruffin Embraces Mascot Comedy

Why should John Oliver be the only late-night host who gets to fully embrace the world of comedic mascotia?! That’s a deep well, and more than one host should be drinking from it. Perhaps that’s a bad metaphor to use for Ruffin’s unvaccinated mascot, who joined The Amber Ruffin Show after New York lifted its vaccine mandate for performers and athletes. Which one does a mascot fall under? Doesn’t matter. A mascot flipping the bird will always be funny, be they athlete or artiste.

1. Jerrod Carmichael Chooses Honesty

Right before walking into 30 Rock to tape his segment on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Jerrod Carmichael got a call from his mother. He had come out to her before taping his HBO special Rothaniel, but the news hasn’t quite been taking. He wasn’t sure how the phone call would go. The two talked about Carmichael’s birthday as well as the special, but the conversation ended with her saying something about how his “sin” is dividing the family. Rather than cover that up and be a showman, Carmichael gave us all the privilege of processing his mother’s mixed messaging on air. That level of transparency was a gift from the stand-up — one he didn’t have to give us, and we should accept it with great care.

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Jerrod Carmichael’s Surreal Life Won Late Night This Week