How Late Night Has Covered Election Night and Beyond

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How Late Night Has Covered Election Night and Beyond

The election that will never end is poised to drag on into its fourth day tomorrow, with a resolution possibly not coming until next week or beyond. That means all those late night shows that have been yapping about the election for the last year will be squeezing even more juice out of our prolonged national nightmare. Traditionally these elections have been wrapped up by the time these shows air their Wednesday night episodes. Instead of recaps and final riffs on the election, last night’s late night shows instead had to focus on the sheer stress and confusion of this seemingly eternal campaign. Here’s how the major shows have handled the post-election night situation so far, from Seth Meyers and Steven Colbert, to Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee.

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Let’s start with Late Night, which has been the sharpest and funniest of the daily late night shows throughout this election. Seth Meyers started off last night’s episode, his first since the election, with what has got to be his longest Closer Look segment yet. This clip hits John Oliverian lengths, running for almost 20 minutes. That size is entirely justified, of course, and not just because this election is, you know, pretty damned important: Meyers has been chronicling the insanity of Trump and inanity of this election every day for over a year, basically since whenever the election unofficially began in 2018 or so, and thus has been building up to this moment for a long time. Let the dude take as much time as he needs to sum up this debacle. And hell, since we’re now sitting here on Thursday afternoon without knowing who won yet, expect another 20 or so minutes on the election on tonight’s Late Night.


The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

It’s been clear for years that the old, deeply beloved Stephen Colbert is well and truly gone—not just the character he played on Comedy Central, but the comedian himself. CBS’s kinder, gentler Colbert has shown flashes of his withering old self, and has always treated Trump with the contempt he deserves, but there’s just something a little too restrained, too safe, too middle-of-the-road about his political comedy these days. Case in point: these clips from last night’s episode of The Late Show. When the best you can do is this parody of an old educational film strip about the Electoral College, you know you’re fully out of the old Colbert Report orbit.

Colbert’s still a very likable guy, though. His monologue from last night doesn’t have anything close to the bite we expected from him in his previous life, but he’s still pleasant to watch. It’s only mildly embarrassing, unlike the consistent cringe-worthiness of other network late night shows, including the one that airs on CBS right after Colbert.

Oh, speaking of cringe-worthiness… There’s also, uh, this thing right here, which uses Sesame Street’s “One of These Things” song to highlight Trump’s delusional speech on election night. Forgot what I said about this show being only mildly embarrassing, I guess.


Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

On Full Frontal Samantha Bee sums up the sheer confusion of the whole situation by comparing it to the sense of dread and disbelief many of us felt on election night in 2016. Bee’s show doesn’t get enough attention in what has become an absurdly crowded field of late night shows, and yes, I realize we’re part of the problem on that front. Every time I watch Full Frontal it’s an eminently likable, consistently funny, and sharply written comedy show with a keen and clear-eyed political perspective. If it wasn’t for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver it’d easily be the best of the post-Daily Show shows.

And here’s the full episode of Full Frontal, which TBS graciously uploaded to YouTube for all of those who no longer have cable. You’re a really super station, TBS.


The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Comedy Central’s Daily Show was one of the few of these shows that actually ran an episode on election night. It was a live hour, with host Trevor Noah joined by Roy Wood Jr. in the studio, with other segments featuring former regular Jordan Klepper and the rest of the current crop of correspondents. I’m typically not a fan of Noah or his show, but Wood is almost always great, and his presence really helps this special. He and Noah have a casual, comfortable chemistry that helps defuse some of Noah’s off-putting qualities. If you want to watch the whole thing, here’s an embed.

Last night Noah recapped all of Wednesday’s developments, and once again was tossed a bit of a lifeline by Wood. It’s hard to watch these videos and not think that the wrong man is hosting this show.


Jimmy Kimmel Live

Okay, if you’re like me, you’ll be sorely tempted to close the window as soon as Kimmel makes that terrible pun at its very start. Kimmel’s monologue is easily the most traditional late night segment we’re sharing here—it’s a dude in a suit standing up and telling jokes in front of a (very small) live audience. The jokes themselves are very hit or miss, probably more of the latter, but Kimmel’s not without his charm. He’s still atoning for his Man Show years, but at least he doesn’t try to coddle the president or downplay Trump’s insanity the way other late night shows have.

Oh, and if you want to skip the monologue and just get to a round of Mean Tweets, politics-style, here you go. Warning, though: Ted Cruz is in this thing.


Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, music, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.

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