Late Night Tackles coronavirus
February 25, 2021

"We've now been in lockdown for over 11 months and if you're beginning to get the crazy feeling that isolation is starting to drive you crazy, you're not crazy — you are crazy," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Yes, according to CNN, "pandemic paranoia is a real thing — or is it? Who paid you to say that, CNN? How would you know I'm paranoid — are you watching me?"

Now, "one guy who actually has a really good reason to be paranoid" is Rudy Giuliani, who's "running like a frightened toddler" from a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit, Colbert recounted with some glee. But when it comes to COVID-19, "we got another injection of positive vaccine news today," with the Johnson & Johnson getting the FDA's near-approval. "That's amazing, soon we'll have as much choice in vaccine brands as we do flavors of Mountain Dew," he joked. "Unlike the ones currently out there, Johnson & Johnson's is single shot — although the company itself still requires a double Johnson."

The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon had a musical comparison between the various COVID-19 vaccines.

"The FDA has just approved a third vaccine," James Corden said at The Late Late Show. "Isn't that great? Now there's three vaccines none of us can get. Here's an added perk: Since it's Johnson & Johnson, it doesn't sting if the vaccine gets in your eyes." But "there's another reason to be optimistic about the vaccine logjam breaking soon," because Pfizer and Moderna say they will have 140 million doses over the next five weeks, he added. "We're so close, guys, to being back in restaurants ... I can feel myself pretending I only want to take a look at the dessert menu."

"We're all itching to do normal things again, it doesn't matter what it is," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "I'd give anything to wait in line at the DMV and get yelled at by a clerk for asking to borrow a pen."

"Predictions for when we'll return to normal range from April to summer to fall to Christmas to next year," Meyers said. But new studies suggest "the vaccines don't just prevent you from getting sick, they prevent you from spreading the virus, too. If that all ends up being true and we don't screw things up, we could potentially have a normal-ish summer." Watch his uncharacteristic optimism and brief nostalgia for imitating Trump below. Peter Weber

December 9, 2020

Britain just began inoculating its citizens with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. "Meanwhile, in the United States, it might take a little longer for everyone to get vaccinated because somebody — and I'm not saying which president — well, he done f---ed up," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. Turning down Pfizer's summer offer to reserve more COVID-19 vaccine "may seem like it was a dumb decision by Trump, but if you take a moment to think about it, you'll realize that it was a really f---ing dumb decision by Trump."

The Pfizer vaccine "is safe and 95 percent effective, so naturally, earlier this year the White House passed on the chance to secure more of the Pfizer vaccine," Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. "It's all laid out in the new book, The Art of Why Didn't You Make the Damn Deal?!"

"Yet another member of the president's legal team just tested positive for COVID," but that "doesn't mean the campaign has stopped losing," Colbert said. "Despite losing 51 post-election lawsuits, the president was still holding out hope for the Supreme Court," though it turns out "even Trump's hand-picked Supreme Court justices didn't want to hear this nonsense."

"The Supreme Court has refused to hear the Trump campaign's argument about throwing out ballots in Pennsylvania, which is a shame, because Republican Sen. Ted Cruz had already volunteered his legal services," James Corden deadpanned at The Late Late Show. "Ted Cruz thinks he's great at oral arguments. Then again, Ted Cruz also thinks he's great at doing impression of characters from The Simpsons."

"The vaccine is starting in the U.K., and then coming here, but your one annoying friend will be like, 'I actually like the original British version better,'" Jimmy Fallon joked at The Tonight Show. Meanwhile, "I read that Trump wants to hand out mass pardons to 'every person who ever talked to' him, even people who don't need pardons. Yep, Trump's handing out mass pardons. The only other time you hear that phrase is after Rudy Giuliani eats Taco Bell."

Trump "reportedly told one insider he's gonna pardon 'every person who ever talked to me' — so, sorry Melania, I guess you're out of luck," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. And to "cover himself" for failing to pre-order more Pfizer vaccine, "Trump signed an executive order that seems to have confused even the guy he has running Operation Warp Speed." Watch below. Peter Weber

December 8, 2020

"On Sunday, President Trump announced over Twitter that Rudy Giuliani tested positive for coronavirus," Jimmy Fallon said on Monday's Tonight Show. "When the news broke, the coronavirus was like, 'Dammit, I knew I should have worn a mask!' I hope Rudy's okay — when they did his nasal swab, it came out black." Still, "Rudy says he's feeling good and will be back to embarrassing himself on camera in no time," he added, a point Tariq Trotter highlighted with his Giuliani Bingo card.

Meanwhile, "a doctor is warning that COVID could actually cause erectile dysfunction," Fallon noted. "So between their COVID vaccine and Viagra, Pfizer's about to make it rain."

The Late Show had an alternate drug to fight COVID erectile dysfunction, Putonamasc.

"As much as you might have some schadenfreude about this thing, Rudy Giuliani testing positive for COVID-19 is a terrifying new development," Trevor Noah deadpanned at The Daily Show. "Up until now, we didn't think that dead guys could even get corona. But look, we all wish Rudy Giuliani a speedy recovery. I want him to get back to the days when his hair was melting off of his head. Nobody wants to make jokes about Rudy having a deadly disease. What we want is to make jokes about how Rudy farted on camera at an election hearing — like, full-on trumpet blast." He showed the clip. "It was so loud," Noah said. "It sounded like his butt was demanding a recount of his lunch. Although to be fair, that fart is no worse than any of the other legal arguments Trump's campaign has made so far."

"This COVID test is the only positive thing to come out of Rudy Giuliani in four years," Jimmy Kimmel joked on Kimmel Live. "He claims he's feeling good, he claims he's recovering quickly, he's feasting on the blood of newborn babies in the maternity ward." Giuliani has somehow "gone from America's mayor to America's sprayer, and you know if somebody made this story up, we'd say it was too much," he said, running through Giuliani's eventful past six weeks, concluding: "Nov. 2, he farts loudly during a pretend election hearing in Michigan. And here we are now on Dec. 7, and Count Flatula has the coronavirus. Have we ever seen a streak like this?" Kimmel turned that into a TV lawyer show. Watch below. Peter Weber

November 13, 2020

"The world is now deep into the second wave of this pandemic — or maybe the third wave, or the fourth," Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. In some U.S. states, "the coronavirus positivity rate is around 50 percent right now. So if you live in South Dakota or Iowa, look at the person to your left. Now look at the person to your right. Why are you sitting between two people?!? You're gonna get coronavirus!"

"Coronavirus is getting worse and worse as the winter months arrive," Noah said. "And with things spiraling out of control just in time for the holidays, the CDC has issued new guidelines for how families can have a safe Thanksgiving." Many Americans say they plan to ignore them and travel to visit family anyway.

"Honestly, I know it seems irresponsible, but I think it is great for people to gather during a pandemic to celebrate Thanksgiving," Noah deadpanned. "Yeah, because isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? Spreading a disease that wipes out a continent? I'm actually surprised Republicans still want Thanksgiving this year," he added, imagining millennial Joe Biden voters interacting with MAGA uncles.

"The whole world is going through this" pandemic, Noah said, "but it turns out there is one place where they do seem to manage the virus better — and that place might surprise you, because you're racist." Africa has "been more successful at controlling a deadly pandemic" like COVID-19 for a few reasons, including "that they've had a lot of practice," he said. But there are also demographic reasons plus better leadership and greater adherence to public health recommendations, Noah added. "So please, this is the one time it's okay to take something Africans came up with and claim it as your own."

Conan O'Brien had a clever solution for Americans who refuse to wear a mask, and you can watch that pitch below. Peter Weber

April 23, 2020

Jimmy Kimmel started off Wednesday's Kimmel Live with a look at President Trump trying out tree-planting for Earth Day and "some not-great news" about COVID-19. "The director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, says there could be a second wave of the virus later this year that might be worse than this one, because it would coincide with flu season," he said. "Basically, he said the next version of the virus could be like The Matrix: Reloaded, just as popular but worse. The good news is, well there is no good news. And we're getting mixed messages from our government. Most experts say stay in your home, but our president says: Go get a tattoo in a bus station."

"As ridiculous as this president is, he's not alone — he got a run for his money from the mayor of Las Vegas," Carolyn Goodman (I), Kimmel said. "Let's put it this way: R Kelly was watching this interview and said: this woman is nuts!" Goodman had a long interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, but "the gist of what she was saying was: Why should we treat this virus any differently from anything else?" he said, showing some of the highlights of the interview, including her rejected offer of Las Vegas residents as a virus control group. "Somehow Las Vegas elected every lady you've ever seen at a Baywatch slot machine to be their mayor," and with 80 percent of the vote.

"Mayor Goodman wants Las Vegas to reopen casinos and let the ones with the most infections then close," and "there's no telling which casino is most at risk, but my money's on Sneezers Palace," Stephen Colbert joked at The Late Show. "Anderson tried to talk some sense into the mayor, but she proved remarkable sense-resistant."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) also offered up his constituents in sacrifice to the economy, telling Fox News "there are more important things than living." You can watch what Tooning Out the News did with that below. Peter Weber

April 17, 2020

"Last month alone, 22 million Americans have been laid off — and unfortunately, Donald Trump is not one of them," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. Trump's aspiration to reopen the country by May 1 "might be a tad premature, because all the experts agree there needs to be extensive coronavirus testing before people can return to work."

Trump said last week he doesn't think we need to do testing, but the business leaders he named to economic-revival councils Tuesday — sometimes without informing them beforehand — told him otherwise. And Trump isn't the only one eager to restart the economy, regardless of the costs. Angry "pro-Trump protesters" gathered outside the Ohio statehouse and choked the streets of Michigan's capital this week to demand the governors reopen business, Colbert said. The Michigan event especially "had the feel of a free-floating Trump rally. Protesters carried Trump flags, MAGA signs, even Confederate flags — because nothing says 'never surrender' like a Confederate flag."

"And if you're wondering why, specifically, these people are so angry that they would gather and risk extending this pandemic," Jimmy Kimmel said, it's access to lawn fertilizer and hair salons. "The real problem" with making people shelter at home "is you can't make Americans do anything, we just won't," he said. "If you tell us to do something, we won't do it. We only exist because someone tried to make us pay extra for tea once."

The flip side of that is "you just can't make people go to restaurants or stores because you want them to," Late Night's Seth Meyers pointed out. "You gonna have federal agents knock on people's doors and force them to go to the Olive Garden?" In a Politico poll this week, "more than eight in 10 voters, 81 percent, say that Americans should continue to social-distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy," he said. So while "Trump seems intent on reopening the economy by the end of the month, even though he doesn't have the power to do that and public health experts have warned against it," he doesn't have the tools to make that happen.

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah looks at all the coronavirus conspiracy theories — well, not all of them. Watch below. Peter Weber

April 3, 2020

Stephen Colbert spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the Capitol on Thursday's Late Show, and he asked her why she isn't sheltering at home. "We are really working constantly on to prepare for our next bill but also to make sure that the legislation that was passed and signed by the president on Friday is fully implemented to meet the needs of America's working families," she said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has objected to a new coronavirus package, she added, but "we hope Mitch McConnell will awaken" to the severity of America's economic black hole.

"Are there going to be strings attached" to "the corporate bailout" in the $2.2. trillion bill already signed? Colbert asked. The law, as written, has "very stringent conditions" on industries receiving the money, Pelosi said, but "at the signing ceremony, the president decided to take upon himself to say he wasn't going to acknowledge or obey any of that, and that was most disappointing." She described Trump's "sad and frightening" signing statement as him declaring "he would be the oversight over all of this," and "that's the fight we have."

Pelosi said she introduced legislation Thursday to set up a House committee, modeled on the World War II Truman Committee, to contemporaneously watch that there's no profiteering, waste, fraud, or other abuses in the implementation of the rescue package. When Colbert asked how democracy should work "while we're all staying at home, all quarantining," Pelosi pointed to the $400 million Democrats had already secured for vote-by-mail, said more is needed, and gently chided Trump for warning expanded voting would doom Republican politicians. "Well, I think he should have more confidence in the Republican Party," she said. "Republicans have always been very good about voting by mail, I can tell you that as a former state chair of the California Democratic Party."

Pelosi's advice to America: "Wash your hands, hydrate, pray, and you can never dance too much." Colbert snuck in an off-color joke.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told Seth Meyers on Wednesday's Late Night she would have eliminated the law's $500 billion "slush fund," and while "they put a few strings on it," it isn't enough. "It's better to put some stings on it up front than it is to complain about it afterward, so that's what I'm pushing the secretary of the Treasury to do right now," Warren added. Peter Weber

April 3, 2020

Stephen Colbert said he is, unfortunately, getting used to taping his Late Show from home, but it is the very least he can do during the COVID-19 outbreak. Also unfortunately, Republican governors in 11 states still haven't issued stay-at-home orders, "but some Republicans are coming around," he said, pointing to Florida's Ron DeSantis, persuaded to finally act not by "the data or the scientists" but "Trump's demeanor," and Georgia's Brian Kemp, who said "he's finally going to take coronavirus seriously because some brand new information had come to light."

The information, of course, isn't new. "Everyone knows the virus can spread before people are symptomatic — that's why were social-distancing," Colbert said, showing a clip of the director of the CDC — based in Kemp's state — telling Congress that very thing back in February. "Can you tell how long ago that was? I'll give you a hint: It happened in a room full of people!"

Wisconsin's Democratic governor (and GOP-led legislature) are also not helping, refusing to postpone next Tuesday's election. "Democrats want to remove barriers like this all over the country," Colbert said. "In the recently passed stimulus bill, Nancy Pelosi — my guest tonight — tried to get funding to move the entire country to vote by mail, but that was roundly rejected by the president, and he explained why," telling Fox & Friends the surge in voters would doom Republicans. "Wow, you can't say that out loud!" Colbert said. "You're supposed to pretend that you won the election because people like you."

"It can be hard to know what to discuss on a quarantine show since there's really only one big story that everybody's talking about," Colbert said: "Of course I mean the Netflix documentary Tiger King," centering on "a bizarre former zoo owner named Joe Exotic," with whom "we have managed to secure an exclusive interview. Please welcome, live from Grady County Jail, where he is currently serving 22 years worth of court-ordered social distancing, the Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic." (Or, in this case, Thomas Lennon in a mullet.)

Social distancing is no joke — but you can watch a short cartoon about it below. Peter Weber

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