Alas, poor brand. This was a momentous week in late night, as it saw the sun set on the Bodega Boys. Desus and Mero broke up — now who’s gonna get custody of Anna Kendrick? The show was always welcome on the lineup because it brought a cavalier attitude to the news and more ass-eating jokes than you could shake an ass at. Vulture already collected a list of bangers from the boys, but I want to shout out a few more: that time Denzel Washington was on the show and mostly talked about train stops, John Legend’s song about (you guessed it) eating ass, and when Mero cyberbullied Tucker Carlson on behalf of Chris Hayes. They will be missed.
This was also the first week that most of the late-night hosts returned from their Fourth of July-ish vacations. Guest hosts are still subbing in for Jimmy Kimmel, and James Corden is probably still in London, but most everyone else was in attendance. Stephen Colbert did a live show after the January 6 hearings, as is his wont. When it was announced, Colbert didn’t know who his guest would be, but the Bronx’s own Chris Hayes came through. And there’s one more hero of late night I want to shout out: whoever plated Sarah Hyland’s lifetime supply of baloney on The Tonight Show. I don’t often laugh at lunch meat, so good on ya, props department. Here’s who else excelled this week.
5. Dana Carvey Plays Both Sides
Dana Carvey filled in for two nights of Jimmy Kimmel Live this week. Other ringers this week included Kerry Washington and RuPaul (and Desus is slated for later this summer). But Carvey played to his greatest strength: presidential impressions. He portrayed both Trump and Biden, bringing interesting notes to both. His Trump is garglier than most, and his Biden is very pleading. Carvey appears to use “Come on!” as a keyword to get into the vibe of Biden, similar to how he’d “Not gonna do it” into Bush Sr. It’s almost weird Carvey never did a tour of Joe Biden duty on SNL back when they had a rotating cast of randoms doing the impression. Remember that? It was weird.
4. Nikki Glaser Knows What Streaming Service She’s On
Hot girls love to say what men they think they look like. I have a friend who swears she’s a dead ringer for Owen Wilson despite never breaking her nose even once. Nikki Glaser is no exception, assuring Seth Meyers that not only do they look identical but that together they could pass handily for ’90s duo Nelson. Glaser was a pro on the couch at Late Night, plugging all her projects (and correcting Meyers when he said her latest special is on Netflix and not HBO Max) and finding a way to organically work material into the conversation. It was like watching a highly skilled carnival barker work their magic.
3. Jenny Slate Does Improv With Trevor Noah
Jenny Slate is a delight on every talk show she is on. She’s the perfect combo of bubbly, oversharing, and game for shenanigans. Trevor Noah joined her in a two-person improv, using Marcel the Shell-ified items from his desk. (Or Everything Everywhere All at Once-ified, if you prefer. They had googly eyes.) Slate yes, and’d her way through the scene, establishing a strong emotional conflict and being very nice about Trevor Noah’s … interesting vocal choices. Book her on everything.
2. The Name’s Pera, Joe Pera
We’ve already extolled the virtues of this interview turned sketch, but damn, Joe Pera is just that good. And Seth Meyers is that good at setting up and augmenting Pera’s goodness. Throughout this piece, where Pera insists he’s the new James Bond, Meyers tries to get Pera to break — to admit the premise is absurd or to not think out the obvious inconsistencies in his story. But Pera is with him every step of the way. I can’t wait for this movie to come out.
1. ACAB Includes Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling is a great sketch comedian and has been since his Mickey Mouse Club days. People rightfully praise “Papyrus” and his participation in the alien-abduction sketches, but another choice SNL moment for him was “The Fliplets,” where he plays the intense brother of a Property Brothers–style home-renovation team. And it’s this weird intensity that he brings to a quick-change sketch on The Tonight Show. He and Fallon go between the couch and the set of their old, canceled cop shows. The jokes are good, the credits gags are choice (Scripts Stapled by Amazon Bosch), but it’s the unhinged energy Gosling brings that really sets this apart. He absolutely beats the shit out of the dummy they’re interrogating — and steals the dummy’s beard. Who’s the real criminal, I ask you?
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