Speed Reads

Last Night on Late Night

Stephen Colbert puts on his pants and tells jokes before his studio audience for the 1st time in 460 days

All the late-night TV hosts struggled to adapt to doing their comedy shows without a live audience. Some of them have since returned to their stages — The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon has a live audience again and Jimmy Kimmel Live populates his theater with staff, mostly — while others are still telling jokes straight to the camera, like The Daily Show's Trevor Noah. The Late Show's Stephen Colbert, whose comedy does better out of a vacuum, returned to his Ed Sullivan Theater with a live audience for Monday's show — and he almost forgot his pants.

"This is a slightly different energy than the converted storage room eight floors above us," Colbert said in his monologue. "I have not been on this stage in front of a live audience for 460 days. I don't know if I even remember how to pander to the most beautiful crowd in the world." 

"Over the weekend, President Biden was in the U.K. for the G7 summit, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was stoked," Colbert said. "You know the last guy was pretty bad when a 78-year-old man is described as a 'breath of fresh air.'" And "while he was in England, the president also hung out with Queen Elizabeth," he said, adding that it's "nice" Biden said the queen reminded him of his mother, "but Joe, you're only 17 years apart. You're more contemporaries, like me and my buddy Jon Batiste." Batiste had his own rejoinder. 

"President Biden's trip abroad will end with his much-anticipated showdown on Wednesday" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who didn't exactly deny Biden's earlier assessment that he's a "killer," Colbert said. "Putin was also asked how Biden compares to the last president," and he called Donald Trump "colorful." Colbert's audience wasn't quite sure how to react to the color he chose to represent the former president. Watch the full monologue below of a comedian happily re-learning to pace for laughs after 460 days of solitude.