Half of late night was off this week. And it was a perfect week to do it, since the world has tired of Will Smith slap jokes and we need a breather. Trevor Noah, on the other hand, came back big with a live audience. Samantha Bee is still audience-less, but Noah can now play to the stands, as can his guests. Just edging out of the top five this week is a behind-the-scenes clip of Ben Stiller taking a pratfall. Noah offhandedly mentions that the live studio audience gets to experience things the TV-viewing crowd doesn’t — like if Stiller trips on the way to the interview, for example. Hearing that backstage, Stiller decided to make a callback for the audience and fake a fall. Dude commits to the bit, because it looks like it seriously hurt. Big swings were the theme for this week in late night, with the top spot being secured with audacity alone. Let’s take a look.
5. Jimmy Kimmel’s Staff Is Ready for a 32-Hour Work Week
Nothing’s better than a carved ice-shot luge … except a carved ice-shot luge made for one 15-second joke on a nightly talk show. The support staff of Jimmy Kimmel Live (sidekick Guillermo and announcer Lou Wilson) took a minute or so to whoop it up in favor of a 32-hour work week. We love a bit that is prop-intensive and pro workers’ rights.
4. Molly Shannon and Stephen Colbert Get Vulnerable
Molly Shannon is on the memoir-publicity circuit, spilling tea with Howard Stern and going on WWHL. But the highlight of the tour was The Late Show, where she and Stephen Colbert got very earnest about losing a parent early in life. Both Colbert and Shannon had parents and siblings die in accidents pretty early in life, and they both opened up about how it permeates their brains, and maybe even steered them toward comedy. If you don’t dab away a tear watching this, I don’t wanna know you.
3. Sandra Bernhart: One-Liner Machine
WWHL games are hit or miss. It’s live, and it’s a bev or two in. You don’t know how the player is going to respond. Could be a lot of ums and uhs. Or you could have Sandra Bernhart being so, so funny. She’s wry, she’s got anecdotes, and she’s delivering them all promptly. Bernhart used to be a go-to guest on talk shows, and that should be a thing again.
2. Michelle Yeoh on Desus & Mero
This segment gets on the list because they made the dang hot-dog hands! But seriously, Desus and Mero are masters of matching their interviewees’ energy. With Denzel, he wanted to feel like one of the boys, so they really bro’d out with him. Michelle Yeoh is in “take this silly movie seriously” mode (because it is a very silly movie that deserves to be taken seriously), so the boys came to her with the vibe of students. They are so effing respectful of this legend. They admit to crying, they don’t interrupt with jokes, they just let Yeoh go off. She gets to say what she wants to say, and they have good active-listening faces on. It’s mad cute. Also, her hair looks incredible under those bodega lights.
1. John Oliver’s Very Legal Blackmail
Intellectually, we already know that the internet tracks our every move, but this Last Week Tonight put it very plainly: Data brokers are lobbying the government to be allowed to aggregate data that’s allegedly anonymous, then sell it to whoevs. Is it going to someone at CBS for a local-news thing? Is it (allegedly) going to Jen Shah for some elder-scamming? Or is it going to John Oliver in order to shame and blackmail Washington into doing the right thing? Oliver does stunts all the time, but they don’t always break the internet. Of anything that happened in late night this week, his plan to blackmail people in Congress with their re-identified data was all over my TikTok FYP. The children are excited.
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