late night
October 24, 2017

Trevor Noah may have no idea what it means to call someone an "empty barrel," but he's sure of one thing: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly needs to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) after he "successfully maligned" the congresswoman last week.

When Kelly replaced Reince Priebus over the summer, it was an appointment widely praised, with pundits calling him "a force for good." This sounded extreme — "It's not the Death Star, everyone in there is supposed to be a force for good," Noah said on Monday's Daily Show — but the retired four-star general was well-respected and seemed likely to be able to control President Trump. That's why it came as a surprise when he "put his credibility on the line" last week and defended Trump after Wilson said she heard Trump's "insensitive" remarks to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed earlier this month in Niger.

"He didn't just step into the fight, he started throwing punches," Noah said. Kelly ridiculed Wilson for listening to Trump's phone call, even though he also heard the conversation since he was next to Trump, and then attacked Wilson's character, calling her an "empty barrel." "Where I come from, you don't call someone an empty barrel, because no one knows what that means," Noah joked. Kelly also claimed Wilson bragged about securing funding for an FBI building in Florida, but video later released by a local newspaper showed she spent her time saluting law enforcement. People believed him, though, because "John Kelly would never say anything that wasn't true — or so we thought," Noah said. Now, it's time for him to make things right with Wilson, a former educator and founder of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project. "She's not an empty barrel," Noah said. "She's someone who deserves an apology." Catherine Garcia

August 25, 2017

The Nightly Show did not survive as The Daily Show's replacement for the Colbert Report, after Stephen Colbert moved over to CBS's The Late Show and Jon Stewart retired. So Comedy Central is digging back to the Colbert Report's formative idea, with Daily Show regular Jordan Klepper creating a Colbert-like faux conservative pundit for the alt-right Trump era. Klepper's show, The Opposition, doesn't start until late September, but he gave a preview on Thursday's Daily Show. "I want to expose the greedy globalists who chase power and money," he explained. "I also want to get more Twitter followers and build my brand, so in a way, I'm looking to expose myself." "Expose yourself?" Noah asked. "Didn't you get arrested for that once?"

"Jordan, I'm not going to lie — this all sounds a little fringe, man," Noah said. "It is fringe," Klepper said, getting to the point. "Reality check: That's where everybody lives now. It's where opinions, policies, and realities are born. On my new show, I represent the outsiders, the underdogs, like the billionaire TV star president." Time and ratings will tell if Klepper can be for Noah what Colbert was to Jon Stewart — if he can capture the moment like the Colbert Report did, or if the moment is too far gone for satire. Peter Weber

May 6, 2017

Late Show host Stephen Colbert made an unusually crude joke about President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, a comment that has drawn ire from Trump's supporters and some members of the LGBT community alike. On Wednesday, Colbert apologized for his word choice but not for the substance of the quip.

The comic is now under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pursuant to "a number of complaints" following the Monday show. If the agency determines the joke was obscene — defined as a comments that appeal to "an average person's prurient interest" or "depict or describe sexual conduct in a 'patently offensive' way; and, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" — CBS may be fined.

Though some have suggested the FCC's attention is politically motivated, the agency is following its normal rulebook, which entails investigation of all complaints. "We'll follow the standard operating procedures, as we always do," said FCC chair Ajit Pai, "and make sure we evaluate what the facts are and apply the law fairly and fully." Bonnie Kristian

October 18, 2016

David Letterman is not dead yet. "With years of vitality left, he has been trying, since his Late Show farewell in May 2015, to figure out what his next step should be," The New York Times reports. But while the 69-year-old is unsure what exactly his future holds, he knows for sure what won't be in it: "I don't miss late-night television,” he told the Times. "And I'm a little embarrassed that, for 33 years, it was the laser focus of my life."

What [Letterman] is clear he does not want, and does not miss, is the platform provided by a nightly talk show, where he and [Paul] Shaffer could riff on current events — "Something about it, it just left us," he said. Not even the final throes of a presidential election whose undulations grow wilder by the day made him nostalgic for this.

"It's too big a job," said Mr. Letterman, who was nonetheless pleased to see one of his old Late Show segments, in which he mocked Donald J. Trump for outsourcing his clothing line to Asia, used in an advertisement for the Hillary Clinton campaign. [The New York Times]

While late night might not have the appeal it used to for Letterman, he is not quitting TV altogether. His brief appearance in the new documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, made him enthusiastic about "doing television that aims to educate a mass audience on serious subjects." Letterman also expressed his admiration for absurdist comedies like Veep and Portlandia.

"I keep saying, jeez, I still think I can do something," Letterman said. Read more about his post-Late Night life at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

October 10, 2015

Comedian Jimmy Fallon is well-loved for a few reasons: his utter inability to keep a straight face, his epic lip sync battles, and his knack for churning out viral videos. But grilling politicians is decidedly not among his strengths, something made abundantly clear when he lobbed softball questions at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on The Tonight Show in September.

In an interview with Sirius XM's Bill Carter, Fallon challenged the notion that he should be hard on his guests:

It's not my job. It's not Meet the Press, I'm not Face the Nation. You can watch those shows and see that. My job, again, is to make everyone look good, no matter who it is — if you're a politician, whatever it is. We have people on there people don't like. I know that, but that's not my job. You make your own opinion. I can just show you the best person they are, try to bring out their more personal side, and play with them. [Sirius XM]

Now if only Fallon would start playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pie with politicians, perhaps he could captivate voters as 2016 nears.

Listen to Fallon's full response below. Julie Kliegman

September 26, 2015

Trevor Noah is set to kick off his Daily Show reign Monday. Shortly after Ryan Adams dropped his cover of Taylor Swift's 1989, Noah announced he'll host him Thursday.

In a Q&A with reporters Friday, Noah said he wants to put more music on the show than there was under predecessor Jon Stewart, Entertainment Weekly reports.

"We're definitely going to be going for more music," he said. "It's something I enjoy to break with at the end of the week."

But don't worry, Stewart fans, Noah also promised that as he finds his own style, the show won't veer too far from its history.

"I look at The Daily Show as a beautiful house that I've inherited, and that I'm going to walk into," he said. "I'm not going to break the house down and then start trying to build a house from there. This is a beautiful house that's been here for many years, it's a landmark. And so what I'll do is try to create it into the home of my dreams using my new family." Julie Kliegman

See More Speed Reads