this week in late night

A Fangirling Haley Lu Richardson Won Late Night This Week

Photo: The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube

The late-night content mill is ready to call time of death on 2022. For many shows, this was the last week of the year as well as the most festive week of the year. James Corden, a noted Halloween naysayer, went full Santa with Melissa McCarthy, Jimmy Fallon did his annual Christmas-sweater shtick, and The Late Late Show continues to be the place where Hanukkah and Mariah Carey standom can come together.

Shiny-floor TV is the spot for Xmas Xontent. For many comedians, singers, and miscellany, doing a Christmas show is the litmus test for true late-night longevity. Dave Foley’s Christmas special was too cynical to bring in the normies, Andy Williams’s Christmas specials had their longevity tainted by Claudine Longet’s involvement with the murder of Spider Sabich, and Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra did theirs just right. Here’s who else threaded the Xmas needle this week.

5. Jimmy Kimmel Does It’s a Wonderful Jewish Life

It’s a Wonderful Life is in many ways the least Christmasy of Christmas stories. People can wish they were never born at any point in the year! And they can feel that way regardless of whether they believe in Christian ideas about angels and how they earn their wings. Jimmy Kimmel Live did a twist on It’s a Wonderful Life that I’ve legit never seen, one that’s explicitly Jewish. And it kind of sucks that this felt genuinely transgressive. If Chanucorn had never been a bit, many things would have changed. Make a note of it!

Amber Ruffin Likes What She Likes

A gorgeous love ballad about what could have been between Amber Ruffin and those jazzy Santa Clauses at Walgreens. Personally, my favorite Santa variant is Surfin’ Santa, but I also hold a lot of respect for Santa That Plays Saxophone. Not enough to fuck him, but for standing in her truth I say to Amber Ruffin: Go off.

3. Amber Riley Won’t Be Baited

Amber Riley went on Ziwe Sunday night and did the most advantageous of things: said nothing. When Ziwe asked, “You said that one of your famous co-workers wasn’t racist. Did you mean that she was?” I LOL’d. I LOL’d for so long that I had to pause and rewind to hear Riley’s answer — or non-answer, but that hardly mattered. Ziwe’s framing of the moment was all that mattered in terms of what made the audience (me) actually cackle. This was a perfect blend of Ziwe’s awkward Instagram interview style and the more media-trained answers she gets on Showtime.

2. Does Lizzo Know What Paul Rudd Looks Like?

Lizzo is a perfect participant in Seth Meyers’s day-drinking escapades if only because she’s from the Midwest and can handle her liquor. But beyond that, she was absolutely game for whatever Meyers wanted to throw at her. She also was ready to call Seth out for not selling his jokes to the absolute limit, something that elevated the segment. But no question, her insistence that a certain Late Night staffer (The Menu co-writer Seth Reiss) was Paul Rudd stole the show. I did see what she meant: Reiss’s forehead isn’t dissimilar to Rudd’s. Again, make a note of it!

1. Haley Lu Richardson Stans Out

Nothing is going to surpass Haley Lu Richardson, style villain of TikTok, getting her bean absolutely freaked by meeting Nick Jonas. It’s so pure — the energy radiating off the screen as Richardson fangirls at Nick Jonas, saying she’s “proud” of the JoBros in a way that suggests her fandom is at least partially responsible for their reunion and successful marriages. It’s too cute; it can’t be fought. Stop trying to fight it! Let Haley have an incredible full-circle moment from fan to star, and let yourself be proud of her getting to that moment.

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A Fangirling Haley Lu Richardson Won Late Night This Week