Late Night Lately: Conan at Comic-Con, Emmy Nominations, Hosts Defend AOC and "The Squad"

8:00 AM 7/20/2019

by THR Staff

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately rounds up the best sketches and guests with a look at what's to come next week.

Courtesy of TBS; CBS; Comedy Central

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately is a one-stop shop for all of the most memorable moments of late-night TV, coming to you each Saturday morning to ease you into your weekend.

So pour your coffee, set your DVR for the week and sit back. Below are a few of the week's best, funniest and strangest late-night moments that you can't afford to miss.

This week: Conan O'Brien went back to San Diego Comic-Con, where he welcomed surprise guest Tom Cruise, the cast of It 2 and more. Meanwhile, several hosts celebrated their Emmy nominations in the variety talk show category, which were announced on Tuesday, and defended the Democratic congresswomen who were attacked by Trump when POTUS said they "should go back to the broken and crime infested places from which they came."

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman  

  • Conan at Comic-Con

    Courtesy of Conaco

    Conan headed down to San Diego for Comic-Con this week, and highlighted guests including Game of Thrones' Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Tom Cruise, the cast of It 2, stars from The Walking Dead and more. His shows continue through Saturday.

    He first featured an animated cold-open parody of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, with O'Brien starring in the central superhero role. "Alright, let's do this one last time," the talk show host says in voiceover. "My name is Conan Denise O'Brien. When I was 15 years old, I was bitten by a radioactive party clown at my Quinceanera. You probably know the rest." Running wild in the big city against the night sky, Conan explains, "Well, I could have used my powers to fight crime, battle evil and rescue innocent people, but instead I opted for cheap laughs and light celebrity chat."

    Later in the week, the host starred in a bit poking fun at the college admissions scandal, with CNN's Jake Tapper reporting that O'Brien had been accused of bribing his son's way into The Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach

    Surprise guest Tom Cruise appeared on Thursday's show after his appearance at Comic-Con to promote Top Gun: MaverickThe two discussed his Les Grossman character from Tropic Thunder. Recalling his early conversation with director Ben Stiller about the film, Cruise said that he told Stiller, "Look, I want to play this character, but I want fat hands, and I want to dance." Pausing to laugh with Conan, he continued, "Sometimes you just get an instinct with a character." 

    And of course, O'Brien recruited actors and comedians to audition for another iconic role, this time with Indiana Jones. Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Billy Eichner, Seth Green, Tig Notaro, Don Cheadle and more shared the faux tapes of auditions to play the adventurer.

    Eichner questioned the audition. "They're remaking Indiana Jones? Why?" the actor asked. "Is he gonna be bi now? Is it woke?"

    Middleditch showed off his skills with a leather whip, Sam Richardson suggested that the character loves snakes this time around, Scott struggled to pull the perfect amount of sand out of a bag to avoid a deadly boulder. Bacon played Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to Indiana Jones movies. Don Cheadle came with the suggestion that the character have lasers shoot out of his chest and performed a song as an ode to the giant boulder. 

  • The Hosts Congratulate Themselves on Emmy Nominations

    Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

    Amid discussions of the 2020 Democratic candidates and "The Squad," late-night hosts took a few minutes to talk Emmy nominations on Tuesday night. 

    Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, TBS' Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, CBS' The Late Late Show With James Corden and CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert were all nominated in the variety talk show category.

    Kimmel said of the show's nomination, "It was a big day today in Hollywood. You know the Emmy nominations were announced this morning. And I’m proud to report that our show and Game of Thrones received a combined 33 Emmy nods. Now, 32 were for them."

    Kimmel additionally took a few shots at R. Kelly and HBO's Chernobyl in his opening monologue. "The best acting I saw this year, which did not get nominated, was R. Kelly in that interview with Gayle King. That to me was the number one performance," he joked, before saying that Chernobyl "tells the true story of how a nuclear disaster caused a whole village of Russians to have British accents for many years to come."

    Colbert was quick to congratulate the staff and crew of The Late Show after learning they received four nominations. He quipped about what would happen if they won an Emmy. "Of course the real Emmy is the friends we made along the way. Unless we win, then you don't need friends because you got an Emmy." 

    Noah expressed his gratitude for being included in the variety talk category. "The Daily Show is nominated," he exclaimed. "Thank you. We truly could not have done it without you guys. Thank you for supporting this. I never take this for granted." He also mentioned the 32 Emmy nods that Game of Thrones received, throwing in: "We should have the Game of Thrones people attend the awards, and then give best drama to Sesame Street."

    Full Frontal celebrated the nomination by tweeting a picture of the staff with bottles of wine: "Thank you Academy voters! It’s an honor just to be nominated but you know what would look even better than wine bottles in our hands? An Emmy! #SamanthaBee."

  • Hosts Blast Trump for Attack Against Democratic Congresswomen

    Comedy Central

    After President Trump stirred controversy for his comments that a group of Democratic congresswomen of color should go back to the "broken and crime infested places from which they came," late-night hosts fired back.

    In his tweets, Trump referred to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies in what's become known as "the squad" (Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan).

    On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah decided to become a "racism detective" to assess whether Trump is, in fact, a racist. "I don’t know what’s worse," Noah said, "the fact that the president thought it’s acceptable to say 'go back to where you came from,' or the fact he said it to people who are already where they came from." He then added, "It’s almost like in Trump’s head you can’t be a person of color and an American." 

    When asked about his controversial comments, Trump said the criticism didn't faze him because many people agree with what he said. Noah took a moment to counterargue. "Just because many people agree with you doesn’t mean you aren’t being racist, okay?" Noah said. "Imagine if Hitler was like, 'I know everybody says I’m bad, but have you seen how many people are waving to me in the streets? If I was racist, they would say something, ya?'" 

    On Late Night, Seth Meyers took a closer look at Trump's "appallingly racist" comment, saying that it's ludicrous to attack the congresswomen when they're actual citizens of this country. "Three of the congresswomen you're attacking were born here, and they're all American citizens. So if you're asking them to fix the totally broken crime-infested governments of their home countries, they're trying," he said. 

    "This is their country, and they are treating it with a lot more respect and devotion than the racist gargoyle who sits around tweeting from the back nine of his chintzy golf course," he said. 

    On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the host commented on Trump's "personal best at being the worst" moment. 

    "If that strikes you as a little racist, you do not know the meaning of the word 'little'.... It's a burrito of wrongness," he said. "He is so wrong. Here's the problem: It is insulting to these women to even have to defend them to these racist accusations." Colbert even took a moment to ask, "Is there anybody Trump does think was born in America?"

    As for Trump's defensive stance that his comments were not racist, Colbert strongly fired back. "Everything in your life has been handed to you on a silver platter, and yet, you -- every other word out of your mouth is a tantrum that would get a toddler dragged out of a ball pit," Colbert said. "You complain about everything! You don’t like Bette Midler! Who doesn’t like Bette Midler?! … If someone is leaving this country, it should be you! And if you’re looking for a new home, might I suggest that you go to hell!"

    On Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host said that Trump was "out of his mind again" before he shared the president's tweets. Kimmel shared a clip of Trump during a press conference, in which he said that the congresswomen should leave the United States if they don't like living in the country. "As soon as he said that, Melania started running to the airport," said Kimmel.

    Jimmy Fallon also addressed the tweet, targeting the First Lady and joked that she asked, "Hey, how come they get to leave?" in response to Trump's tweets. "I don't know what's more shocking. That the president sent a racist tweet or that we won't be talking about this in two days," he said. 

  • Trevor Noah Responds to Scarlett Johansson's Representation Comments

    VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images; Mike Coppola/Getty Images

    In response to recent comments made by Scarlett Johansson about representation in the arts, late-night host Trevor Noah shared his perspective via The Daily Show on Wednesday. 

    During her cover story interview with As If magazine, Johansson was quoted as saying, "You know, as an actor I should be able to play any person, or any tree, or any animal, because that's my job and the requirements of my job."

    She later clarified her intention, saying, "The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art." She went on to say, "I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn't come across that way."

    Noah said that Johansson "has a record for coming under fire for playing roles that people have said could go to other minority groups." He gave the example of her role in the anime adaptation Ghost in the Shell, as well as Johansson's recent decision not to play Dante Tex Gill, a real-life trans figure, in the feature film Rub & Tug

    The late-night host then referenced her statement about playing any person as an actor, noting, "I understand why you might want to get defensive as a person. I can even understand why some white people might feel like they're under attack in and around these conversations. But I think what's often lost is when Scarlett goes, 'I should be allowed to play an animal or a tree or anything,' and it's like, yes, but that's exactly what people are saying: For so long, Hollywood and the people who define storytelling in America have defined it as stories to be told for an by white people. And so the roles that have generally been reserved for black people have been the stereotype of criminal, maid, slave. That's pretty much it."

    Noah added, "We take for granted how much representation means to human beings, I think in two ways. One: in an inspirational front, and two: just how it shapes society." He uses an example of muslims being associated with terrorists and how that idea is "propagated by Hollywood," due to the the nationalities that typically portray terrorists on screen. Noah calls that type of imagery powerful because it puts an image of those people in the minds of the consumer.

  • Kimmel Translates Offset and Cardi B's Song "Clout" for Old People

    Randy Holmes/ABC

    Cardi B and Offset joined Jimmy Kimmel during Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live! to give their song "Clout" a "New Lyrics for Old People" twist.

    The married couple performed the song line by line, while Kimmel followed up each verse with explanations. 

    Offset began, "Straight out the streets to a penthouse, Miami beach." Kimmel said the line meant that Offset came from humble beginnings but he now owns a condominium in Florida.

    Cardi B rapped, "Whole lotta people need to hear this / It's a lotta names on my hit list." Kimmel said that he interpreted the line as "Everyone listen closely because I'm upset with a lot of you."

    Kimmel tried to briefly summarize the meaning of the song. "I think what we've learned here is that there are a lot of people who are trying really to kind of take some of your fame by taking shots at you, and you guys have had enough of it, yes?" the host asked.

  • Late-Night Lineup: July 21-27

    Monday, July 22
    Jimmy Kimmel Live!: Quentin Tarantino stops by ahead of his anticipated film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

    Late Night With Seth Meyers: Another political week at late night begins with Sen. Cory Booker. Beto O'Rourke will be on the show Thursday. 

    Tuesday, July 23
    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert: Julián Castro visits CBS a week ahead of the next Democratic debates.