Late Night Lately: Interviews With Bubba Wallace, Jon Stewart and John Bolton

8:00 AM 6/27/2020

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 Comedy Central; CBS (2)

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: The hosts first took on President Trump's low turnout at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma: "I've seen less empty seats at an improv show." Stephen Colbert interviewed former Trump adviser John Bolton, asking him how he could be so "naive" when it came to the president. Trevor Noah put a spotlight on violent portrayals of police on television, and Jon Stewart spoke about Trump, Biden and the 1918 pandemic. 

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman

  • Hosts Poke Fun at Trump's Tulsa Rally "Flop"

    Courtesy of Networks

    President Donald Trump held his first rally since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. What was expected to be an event with a packed Bank of Oklahoma Center and an outdoor "overflow" section was instead a much smaller gathering, with numerous empty seats. On Monday's episodes of their late night shows, hosts Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and James Corden all poked fun at the low turnout.

    Colbert focused on how the Trump administration advertised the rally, noting that it was touted as "The Great American Comeback Festival."

    "This indoor rally of thousands of screaming fans was a chance for a comeback for Trump and COVID-19," Colbert joked. "One of them's gonna have a really good fall."

    Colbert went on to criticize not only the indoor attendance of Saturday's event, only 6,200 attendees, but also the lack of people in the allotted overflow section. The outdoor space of the rally was expected to hold 40,000 supporters, but instead held 25 people, according to a CNN report Colbert referenced.

    "That's not a presidential rally, that's the private party room at the Olive Garden," he said.

    Meyers also took a shot at the low attendance: "Wow I've seen less empty seats at an improv show."

    Fallon quantified the number of rally attendees in different terms. "Trump's had more former staffers write books about him than that," he said. "Six-thousand-two-hundred people isn't a rally. It's a graduation at a small liberal arts college."

    While the lower-than-expected attendance could be partly attributed to coronavirus concerns, TikTok users and K-pop fans reportedly reserved thousands of free tickets to the Trump event with no plans of showing up. The late night hosts expressed their support for and pride in the pranksters. 

    "There hasn't been a coordinated social media effort like this since they changed Sonic the Hedgehog's teeth," Fallon said. 

    Both Corden and Noah likened the kids to the crime-solving Scooby-Doo gang, noting "[Trump] would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling kids."

    But Noah noted a difference between the president and traditional Scooby-Doo characters.

    "At least Scooby-Doo villains wear masks," he quipped.

    Along with criticizing the Tulsa rally's small turnout, late night hosts also pointed out Trump's "walk of shame" following the event. 

    Returning to the White House from Tulsa, Trump was seen holding his red "Make America Great" hat in hand and red tie undone, looking "like a drunk wedding guest shuffling back to the Marriott," Meyers joked. "Somehow this is the perfect image to sum up the Trump presidency."

  • Stephen Colbert Conducts Tense Interview With John Bolton

    CBS

    Former Trump adviser John Bolton appeared on The Late Show on Tuesday, where he spoke with host Stephen Colbert about working with Trump — an experience he details much further in his upcoming tell-all memoir, The Room Where It Happened.

    The book is said to accuse the president of being driven by political calculations when making national security decisions. Colbert began a conversation assuming that Bolton speaks to his "fellow longterm conservative Republicans" who have served multiple administrations, about Trump. "What are they saying behind closed doors?" Colbert asked. "I mean, there are high-profile things like The Lincoln Project and Republicans Against Trump. But when the cameras are off, what’s the conservative opinion of Donald Trump?"

    Bolton responded, “Well, look. I think many of them, in fairness to Trump, look at the comparison — as I did in 2016 with Hillary Clinton — look at the comparison with Joe Biden and say, whatever we think of him, he’s not going to be a Democrat subject, especially these days, to the pressure of the left. Look, I bought that argument in 2016."

    The host jumped in with, "He’s going to be subject to the pressure of Vladimir Putin. … He’s a person willing to sell out the interests of the American people for his own re-election." He then asked Bolton, "What could be worse in Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden’s philosophy than betraying your country to a hostile foreign leader, sir?"

    Bolton explained that he understands the point, and Colbert pressed him to answer the question. "What I thought in 2016 was, we at least have to try it out," Bolton responded, adding that he voted for Trump. "Having experienced 17 months of working with him, I can’t in good conscience do that again," said Bolton. "That’s why I’m not going to vote for him and I’m not going to vote for Biden."

    Colbert said that there is "absolutely nothing" Trump has done that is surprising to him, which he finds exasperating. "My rule is, everything you think about Donald Trump is probably true, because he’s not deep enough to get your socks wet in. He’s incredibly readable. That’s why when he ran casinos, the house lost. There’s nothing to learn about him. That’s why he’s essentially a boring person. How did you not know beforehand that he was just callow?"

    Bolton answered that he couldn’t believe it was that bad, adding that he knows other people say they saw it earlier. Colbert continued to press the former Trump adviser. "But you’re a national negotiator, how could you be naive?" he asked. "You’ve dealt with the worst people in the world."

    Bolton replied, "You’ve really insulted me now by calling me naive. Look, I thought it was possible to work with somebody. I thought surely they would want to learn about the complexities of arms control negotiations and that sort of thing, and as I detail in the book, that turned out not to be true."

  • Trevor Noah on "Copaganda"

    Comedy Central

    As anti-police brutality and anti-racism protests continue to occur nationwide, Trevor Noah highlighted the violence-heavy portrayals of police and law-enforcement officers on TV. 

    "Believe it or not, watching cop shows makes a lot of people see the police as infallible," Noah said. "And honestly, I don't blame any of these people. I'll admit a lot of my perceptions about reality has been shaped by TV, as well." 

    The host shared a video compilation showcasing on-screen cops using brute force towards suspected criminals in shows including NCIS: Los Angeles, Law & Order: SVU and Bones. Noah pointed out that no other group of professionals is portrayed as behaving so violently. He also said that shows make it seem that the police officers have reasons to threaten and beat their criminals. 

    "TV is a powerful tool that shapes how the public sees the police," the late-night host said. "[It] shapes how the public sees the police's role in society and how accountable they should be."

    The late-night host brought the segment to a close by calling on Hollywood to reflect on and consider changing how they portray cops and law-enforcement officers on their shows. 

    "To all those show creators, directors and writers in Hollywood who make these cop shows and have been tweeting that something needs to be done about the police, well, one way you can help make a difference is if you do something about the police on screen," Noah said. 

  • Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Talk Biden, Trump and the 1918 Pandemic

    Screen Grab/CBS

    After being critical of  presidential nominee Joe Biden, Jon Stewart shared what he believes makes the former vice president the best-suited leader for America. "What I think in this moment this country needs is a leader of humility that understands that he doesn't understand, that understands the humanity of this experiment and the difficulty that it is in maintaining it," Stewart said on Wednesday's Late Show. "It gives me hope that maybe he is the man of the moment."

    Stewart, who also shared that he initially supported either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic presidential primary, said that Biden wasn't even in his top four choices for the next president. But upon seeing past Biden's "Uncle Joe character," Stewart said that he has learned to value the Democratic nominee's life experiences, noting that the grief from loss Biden has experienced leads to humility.

    "There's a humility to the randomness of tragedy that brings about a caring that can't be faked and it can't be contrived," Stewart said. "Trump doesn't have that gear."

    During his Wednesday night appearance, Stewart also chatted with Colbert about the 1918 pandemic and how policies from nearly 100 years ago aren't all that different from today's. Stewart shared that during the 1918 health crisis, experts advised staying inside and wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.   

    "It's 102 years, we've literally just been driving in circles," he quipped on the late-night show. "They haven't made any improvement over the last 102 years. Somebody screwed up."

    When asked about the current government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Stewart joked that he blinked "S.O.S" in morse code. 

  • NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace Jr. Discusses Noose Incident

    Comedy Central

    NASCAR driver Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. made his first late-night appearance on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah on Wednesday, where he opened up about the support he's received after a noose was found in his garage at an Alabama racetrack. 

    Wallace is an Alabama native who is the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR's elite Cup Series. The incident occurred less than two weeks after Wallace successfully pushed the auto racing series to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities. "Ever since being vocal in being a human being, I've been proud to kind of step away from Bubba Wallace the athlete and to step up as Bubba Wallace the human and not be so, 'I don't know If I can touch that'; 'I don't know if I can say these types of things.' I'm letting that guard down," Wallace told Noah. 

    "With me doing this, they have to know the bigger picture of everything. It's not about racing. It's about race," he said. "So ever since having that voice and being vocal about it and coming out and standing my ground, to helping NASCAR paint a new picture for sport and for the next generation to see and latch onto...I knew, 'All right, roll the sleeves up, it's going to be tough.'" 

    Prior to making a statement regarding the noose, Wallace noted he had fears that he would receive public scrutiny that it was a hoax and would be compared to what happened to Empire actor Jussie Smollett. "My crew member checked each and every garage around us. Not one of them had anything close to resembling what we had," he said, adding that he was relieved to learn later that the rope had been there earlier and that it was not directed toward him. "It was there; it had been there, so when they found that evidence, it was good. My family wasn't targeted. I wasn't targeted."

    Later in the conversation, Noah touched on the idea that some fans believe Wallace brought racial politics into NASCAR or played the "race card," which he explained he has never done. "I am looked at as an African American guy because of the color of my skin," Wallace told Noah. "I am darker. I am not white. I am not Black. I am mixed, and it's something that I've never once tried to bring in. I've always tried to bring in the competitive nature: 'Don't mess with me, I won't mess with you.' Let's race our hearts out. That's it."

    He continued, "And now, having a voice, having a platform, being vocal, standing up for what I believe is right, standing up for a race that feels defeated, that is afraid to speak out because they don't know what's going to happen — I don't want to see my people go down like that." Wallace went on to say that, moving forward, he wants to use his voice to create change in his sport and his community.