Donald Trump is still somehow viewed as a president by enough people in this country to guarantee him another State of the Union address, which he delivered to Congress earlier this week. Fresh off an impeachment trial that was turned into an absolute sham by the Republicans running the Senate, Trump attained perhaps the most perfect version of himself—the Ur-Trump, who pretty much couldn’t say anything without it being a lie, a boast, or an insult. The State of the Union is an annual tradition, of course, and one of the other annual traditions that have clustered around it are the responses from the nation’s late night talk show hosts. All those white dudes in suits make a point of joking about this formal nonsense every year, and with this being such an absurd week for politics (between the speech, impeachment, the Iowa caucuses, etc.), their State of the Union monologues and sketches were filled with more passion than usual. Here’s a rundown of what the biggest late night hosts had to say about Trump’s third State of the Union address.
Stephen Colbert went live after the speech ended, as he’s typically done with The Late Show on the nights of major political events. He focused in detail on the inanities and lies in Trump’s speech with the tone you’ve come to expect from his CBS show—nowhere near as sharp or audacious as his Comedy Central work, and with way more predictable punchlines than he would’ve used in the past, but still occasionally showing the bite that made his old show so great. He then went back to the well the next night, with a short sketch about Nancy Pelosi ostentatiously tearing up Trump’s speech from the Speaker’s traditional seat at the dais right behind the president.
Meyers also tackled Pelosi’s destruction of Trump’s speech, but was more interested in targeting the hypocrisy of Trump supporters (in this case, some guy named “Mike Pence”) who act like what Pelosi did is a new low in incivility. All told, Meyers didn’t spend too much time on the State of the Union—perhaps because the little matter of impeachment was both more notable and a better fit for comedy.
Unsurprisingly, The Daily Show spent the most time on Trump’s speech, with Trevor Noah pointing out the absurdity of a president basically giving his own job evaluation in the middle of being tried for impeachment. The first 10 minutes of the clip above are entirely about the speech and Pelosi’s reaction to it, before digressing over to one of the other two huge political stories of the first half of this week, the disastrous Iowa caucuses. And because devoting a third of an entire episode to Trump’s latest embarrassing speech wasn’t quite enough, The Daily Show also whipped up a much shorter—and perhaps more effective—video focused entirely on Trump’s endless war with the correct pronunciation of basic, everyday English.
The funniest reaction might’ve come from Jimmy Kimmel—which I’m kind of surprised to say, because I typically think he’s not quite as good at this kind of thing as Colbert. His segment about the State of the Union wasn’t “edgy” at all, but it was a bit more pointed than the other shows this time around, and he avoided some of the more obvious jokes that both Colbert and Meyers rolled out. Plus he seems to believe what he’s saying a bit more—like, you can kind of tell this guy legitimately dislikes this dangerous idiot we have as a president, and that’s the kind of energy I like to see in situations like this. Kimmel also did a follow-up segment about the laughable Republican outrage over Pelosi’s speech-ripping gimmick; it starts about four minutes into the video below.
It’s entirely possible other late night shows did some bits about this, too. Do you really want to know what Jimmy Fallon or James Corden have to say about anything political, though? It’d probably just involve wearing a wig and singing some lightly rewritten pop song. No thanks.