this week in late night

John Mulaney and Andy Samberg’s Rescue Operation Won Late Night This Week

Photo: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Post-COVID immunity just ain’t what it used to be, huh? Both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel doubled up on COVID hiatuses this month — testing positive, getting better, then testing positive again. And both times, Kimmel handled it with more aplomb than Colbert. Colbert’s show simply went dark, while Kimmel brought in guest hosts. First Mike Birbiglia took a whole week, then John Mulaney and Andy Samberg had a glorious one-night-only event, something that stressed Samberg out so horribly that he vowed never to have a late show ever again. Sorry, Late Late Show.

Samantha Bee was back from normal, non-COVID hiatus, just in time to lament the loss of fundamental rights to health care. What I appreciated about Bee’s take on Justice Alito’s leaked ruling was the focus on how old and dumb the case law cited is. The 1200s are too long ago to matter, and it’s time someone said it. Here’s what else needed saying this week.

5. Haim Really Haims Out on WWHL

Este accidentally broadcast her phone number on live television! And she talked about her first period, which is always good TV. WWHL is perfect for discord, and two-thirds of Haim provided just that. During the after-show, Andy Cohen seemed almost annoyed at how talkative and enthusiastic the sisters were to be in the holy house of Bravolebrity. WWHL only sings out when people outside the Bravo-sphere are on, breaking format and being just insane. Thanks, Haim sisters, for the organic chaos.

4. Amber Ruffin Tries to Sing White Supremacy Away

Amber Ruffin took some time on Late Night With Seth Meyers to sing a jaunty tune about condemning white supremacy. Will it change anything? Probably not. But we haven’t tried that tactic yet, okay? Ruffin was best not when singing but when clapping back to Meyers about her segment’s efficacy. Eighty bajillion “A Closer Look” segments haven’t fixed anything — let’s try song! Fuck it, give it a go. Ruffin channeled the frustration of everyone who is sick of feeling helpless against an ever-flowing tide of Bad Shit. Time to try feeling good.

3. Ziwe Calls Out Known Landlord Hannibal Buress

First of all, hats off to Ziwe for taking the stance that being a landlord is cringe and something to go on Ziwe to address. Sometimes the Showtime version of Ziwe lacks a committed POV; the interview’s not a full endorsement or takedown of a guest. But Buress dug his own grave in this segment by jokingly (?) bragging about hiring women to yell at him as prep for going on the show and claiming that you can never really own a building. Turns out you definitely can.

2. James Corden Answers a Question With a Question

Even before Reggie Watts’s final question of the night, this clip probably would have made the roundup. Lennon Parham and Hannah Einbinder are charming talk-show guests with improv backgrounds. They give great banter! But the final portion of the evening, when Reggie’s last Q of the night gets passed around like a hot potato, is just so dumb and fun. What makes it more extraordinary is how no one drops the potato/bit. Einbinder commits so hard I think she fakes tears at the end. The conclusion is as satisfying as the time getting there.

1. John Interviews Andy; Andy Interviews John

Of course this won. This was always going to win. Two of the architects of 21st-century humor, throwing merch into the audience, setting up the same clip, and giving belabored intros for each other. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg are all-stars, which makes it even more weird that Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a Disney+ exclusive, not in theaters (as the boys take great pains to mention repeatedly during their guest-hosting). One wonders if, despite Samberg’s protestations to the contrary, more late-night hosting could be in their futures. Both are excellent in the host role, even if Andy can never remember if he’s Chip, Dale, or Jimmy Kimmel.

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John Mulaney and Andy Samberg Won Late Night This Week