Speed Reads

Last Night on Late Night

Jon Stewart makes an animated case for the Wuhan lab-leak theory to a skeptical Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert's first guest on his first show back before a live audience Monday was Jon Stewart, who seemed a little on edge after 15 months of pandemic. "We are truly dear friends, and yet this is the first time I've seen you in the flesh in 15 months," Colbert said. "That is correct, and I am so really happy," Stewart deadpanned. "And I know we're all vaccinated and I'm not going to get COVID, but I'm gonna get something."

Colbert said at the beginning of the pandemic, Stewart had told him pandemic science hadn't changed much since the 1918 influenza plague, then asked him if he had changed his mind. "I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science," Stewart said. "Science has in many ways helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science." He offered a very spirited and animated, if scientifically minimalist, argument for why the coronavirus emerging in Wuhan, China, was too much of a coincidence for him to swallow. 

Colbert offered some alternative explanations. "Stop with the logic and the people and things," Stewart said, summarizing his case: "The name of the disease is on the building" in Wuhan. "And how long have you worked for Sen. Ron Johnson?" Colbert joked. "I'll tell you what I'm suspicious of. I'm suspicious of the Daytona Spring Break Herpes Lab. That may be where all the herpes comes from."

Scientists "do such great work, but they are going to kill us all," Stewart recapped after a commercial break. "Hers's how I believe the world ends. ... We are a screwed up world: There's racism, income inequality, fascism, authoritarianism, all these horrible horrible things. Natural resources that all run down. That will all be fine. The world ends — the last words man utters are, somewhere in a lab, a guy goes, 'Heheh, it worked.'"