Trevor Noah, James Corden, John Oliver and More Late-Night Hosts Reveal Pre-Show Rituals, Favorite Non-Trump News Stories

9:00 AM 8/12/2019

by Michael O'Connell

The hosts of the six Emmy-nominated shows reveal which stars would make the perfect hosts (Meryl Streep and Ariana Grande) and what they’d do if it were all over tomorrow.

From left: Trevor Noah, James Corden, John Oliver
From left: Trevor Noah, James Corden, John Oliver
Courtesy of Comedy Central, CBS and HBO

  • 'The Late Late Show With James Corden'

    CBS

    Terence Patrick/CBS

    What's the last thing you do before you walk onstage for a taping?

    Read the monologue and talk to [executive producer] Ben Winston.

    Who in Hollywood do you think would make a great late-night host?

    Bryan Cranston

    What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow?

    Move back to London.

  • 'The Daily Show With Trevor Noah'

    Comedy Central

    Sean Gallagher

    What's the last thing you do before you walk onstage for a taping?

    I like juggling, either with my hands or a soccer ball with my feet. It helps me take my mind off the show for a moment and reminds me to have fun.

    What is your favorite recent non-Trump news story you've covered?

    Student debt. I love covering issues that are affecting everyone regardless of their political leanings, and this issue is big.

    Who in Hollywood do you think would make a great late-night host?

    Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, Drake, Dwayne Johnson, Kendall Jenner, Jason Bateman and Gabrielle Union.

    What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow?

    Recently I had the pleasure of working with Microsoft designing products, so maybe I'd try to do that. Or I'd become an Uber driver — I love driving, and I'd get so much material for when I'm employed in comedy again.

  • 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'

    ABC

    ABC/Randy Holmes

    What's the last thing you do before you walk onstage for a taping? 

    I call my wife and tell her that, on the off chance something terrible happens, I don't want her to remarry.

    What is your favorite recent non-Trump news story you've covered?

    I loved the [FIFA] Women's World Cup soccer tournament. That team [USWNT] hit all the right notes exactly when we needed it most.

    What's a segment you did in the past year that you thought was going to get more traction than it did? 

    I had high hopes for a bit we called "In-Car Celebrity Sing-Along."

    Who in Hollywood do you think would make a great late-night host?

    That angry little fella from the bagel shop.

    What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow? 

    I'd go to lunch.

  • 'Full Frontal With Samantha Bee'

    TBS

    Courtesy of Samantha Bee/TBS

    What is your favorite recent non-Trump news story you've covered?

    Our segment on sex ed for senators back in May. It was a response to the launch of all of these extremely restrictive abortion bans that were popping up all over the country. Obviously we were furious about it, but the second layer to this bullshit layer cake is that many of the people writing these oppressive laws don't seem to understand the basic functions of the human body. I often ask myself, "Why does this person who thinks a woman can turn her period on and off like a spigot get to write laws that govern our reproductive organs?" There's no easy answer. So we did a very basic educational video for them a la Schoolhouse Rock. Honestly, anytime I can wear a denim vest with patches on it is a good day. It's still hanging in our office for the next time I need to go into teacher mode. Probably tomorrow, because there are so many dummies out there drafting laws these days.

    Who in Hollywood do you think would make a great late-night host?

    Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Busy Philipps, Michelle Wolf, Robin Thede — do you want me to go on or do you get my point?

    What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow?

    You can't ask a woman on late-night TV that question. It's too real.

  • 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

    CBS

    Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

    What's the last thing you do before you walk onstage for a taping?

    I slap myself in the face. Hard. Twice. My rule for myself is that it has to be hard enough that I regret having done it. I'm just trying to wake up and be present because I know I don't have another shot at all these jokes.

    What is your favorite recent non-Trump news story you've covered?

    A segment called "Community Calendar." It's based on an actual public access TV show in Monroe, Michigan, that I went on in 2015. A star who comes from a small town joins me on a crappy set and we talk about all the great events to attend in their town.

    What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow?

    I would call Jon Stewart and say, "What do you do after this? Is the farm next to yours available?"

  • 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver'

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    What’s the last thing you do before you walk onstage for a taping?

    We’re usually waiting for our lawyers to sign off on the script. As soon as they do, I have my face quickly powdered like a 17th century French noblewoman and walk onstage.

    What is your favorite recent non-Trump news story you’ve covered?

    The entire saga of Russell Crowe’s jockstrap last year was a joy from start to finish. Russell Crowe was having a “divorce auction,” and we bought his jockstrap from the movie Cinderella Man and donated it to the last Blockbuster Video store in Alaska. In response, Russell Crowe used the proceeds from the sale to fund the John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward at Australia Zoo. The Blockbuster in question has since closed. The Koala Chlamydia Ward is still open. We ended the year shooting a Fast and Furious trailer featuring the jockstrap, five wax presidents, Armie Hammer and Russell Crowe himself.

    What would you do if you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow?

    Wait, are you asking all the hosts that question? Or is it just me? Do you know something that I don’t? Am I about to get fired? Is it happening tomorrow? This is bullshit.

    A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.