Late Night Lately: Summer's Most Memorable Guests (So Far)

8:00 AM 7/4/2020

by THR staff

The Hollywood Reporter's Late Night Lately rounds up the best sketches and guests.

Late Night Lately graphic  - Jon Stewart, John Bolton, Bill Murray  - Publicity -H 2020
Courtesy Photos

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.

While the hosts are on hiatus for the Fourth of July holiday, take a look at some of this summer's biggest and most memorable guests on late night (so far). 

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman

  • Stephen Colbert Conducts Tense Interview With John Bolton

    Former Trump adviser John Bolton appeared on The Late Show on June 23, 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."

  • Jon Stewart Visits 'The Daily Show'

    Jon Stewart joined Trevor Noah on The Daily Show on June 25 where Stewart and Noah discussed the outcry for the removal of Confederate statues amid the ongoing nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality. 

    "People say you're erasing history. By the way, I don't remember the Conservatives during the Iraq war, when the Saddam Hussein statue fell in Baghdad, I don't recall Republicans going, 'You don't want erase history! That is your history! Leave it be,'" Stewart explained to Noah, adding that he believes the "plaque on the statue is not history."

    "It doesn't say, 'this motherfucker thought that he should fight a war to ensure that he could have slaves,'" he said. "We put it up to instill fear in the people that we kept as slaves and their descendants," Stewart added, arguing that the removal of the statues "should have been done in short order by a normal functioning society years ago."

    The host and comedian later discussed COVID-19 and though "all over the world, people are dealing with the same thing," Noah argues that "America might be the only country where it's seen as a political issue as opposed to a pandemic." "It seems like something you can choose to believe in or not," Noah said. 

    Speaking of the virus, Stewart added that he finds issue with the outcry over wearing masks. "The mask thing is kind of what blows my mind because you know surgeons wear them in operating rooms and they don't wear them because they drive Volvos and sip chai tea," Steward explained. "I just want to say to people on the mask thing, 'next time you're having an operation and the surgeon comes in with washed hands and mask, just don't be a pussy. Don't be some little puss. You take off that mask and you unwash your hands and you stick your paws in my open gaping wound cause apparently sanitary conditions are a liberal myth." 

    Later on, Stewart discussed his new film Irresistible — he directed and wrote the screenplay — which stars Steve Carell and Rose Byrne as campaign strategists on opposing sides of a small-town heartland mayoral race. Of his political satire film, Stewart explained why he didn't "want to make a movie about the political moment." 

    "I feel like that's The Daily Show and that's what you guys do so well is you do the weather every night, you come out and you talk about the political moment and you bring the funny and the insight and the context to the political moment. I really wanted to think about it as the climate and the system," he said. 

    Throughout his film, Stewart says he wanted to center on the "idea that we have kind of created this complex of media and moneyed interests and politicians and they all work and enrich each other." "There's very little accountability and it grows. You know those types of symbiotic structures don't dismantle themselves," he said. 

    Of the current political climate, Stewart says he feels optimistic about the "talented, committed energized people " who are "taking the reigns of these really rotted out husk of institutions." "You get the sense that they're committed to rebuilding them in a manner that is going to create a studier foundation." 

    He went on to emphasize that "so much of this country is what's essential." "All the people in this country who are essential to its functioning are the lowest paid," he said. "The pendulum has sung away from valuing work." He also expressed empathy for the many whose health insurance is tied to their jobs and have to rely on food stamps. "That's not really freedom. We have to find a way to make those in this country, who are essential, to give them more liberty and more liberty comes from being able to live a life that is built on granite and not on quicksand." 

  • Bill Murray Wants More Credit for His Role in 'Space Jam'

    Bill Murray joined Jimmy Kimmel Live! from his bathtub on May 13, where he quipped he does not get enough credit for his work in the 1996 film Space Jam. 

    Kimmel asked Murray if he had been watching the ESPN docuseries The Last Dance, which chronicles Michael Jordan's final championship season with the Chicago Bulls. Murray, a huge Bulls fan, confirmed he was and that he loved seeing himself in old clips since he was at a lot of those big games. 

    "There! I'm in the background! Stop, play that back," Murray joked about seeing himself in the series. 

    Asked about his most memorable experience with Jordan, Murray reminded Kimmel that he did play himself in Space Jam, a performance he asserted deserved more credit. "People forget I got the assist on the game-winning basket," Murray said. "I stole the ball. I made the pass. I got nothing. I wasn't even interviewed after." 

    In all seriousness, Murray said he enjoyed making the film, especially since it took so much time to set up between shots that he, Jordan and Larry Bird could escape for a while to play golf. 

  • Joe Biden, Trevor Noah Discuss "Defund the Police" Rhetoric

    Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared virtually on The Daily Show on June 10, speaking with Trevor Noah about how the police force should be handled in America.

    "You know, many activists and organizers have come out saying there have been repeated attempts to reform many police departments," said Noah. "Were it not for civilian cameras, we wouldn’t know the truth sometimes." 

    Noah asked Biden, if he was to become president, if he thinks there would be a world where "defunding the police would be the solution," giving the example of where responsibilities could be taken away from police forces — schools, places treating mental illness, in the homelessness community.

    Biden responded by saying that he believes changes can be introduced without having to defund the police completely. "I don’t believe police should be defunded, but I think that conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reform. We should set up a national use of force standard. If they don’t sign on to it, then in fact they don’t get any of the federal money."

    He continued, "In addition, that they have to demonstrate that they release all the data that relates to misconduct by police, that all has to be sent to the justice department. If they don’t send it to the justice department nationally, they don’t get funded."

    He emphasized that police should be put second in those circumstances, and not first. "For example, we should change the way we deal with all drug abuse," Biden said. "Nobody should be going to jail for the use of drugs, they should be going to mandatory rehabilitation. We should be building rehab centers, not more prisons."

    Closing the segment, Biden emphasized the importance of building trust between law enforcement and communities to increase safety, and to invest in the funding of community police. "When we were funding community policing, the crime rate went down and the extent of brutality went down, too because people know who’s in the community. But it’s much bigger than that, it’s complicated. But I think we should turn over as much as we can to non-armed police officers to deescalate things related to mental illness, homelessness and drug abuse."

  • Tiffany Haddish Opens Up About Attending George Floyd's "Powerful" Memorial Service

    Tiffany Haddish opened up about attending George Floyd's memorial service during June 9's Late Night. "I decided to go because I was invited," said Haddish. "The thing that made me really want to be there is I have watched my friends be slaughtered by the police."

    "I have watched people be murdered in front of me," she continued, noting that she saw a friend die when she was 13.

    "I wanted to be there in support of the family because I understand how they feel," she explained. "Being there was like being there for all of my friends whose funerals I already went to." 

    Haddish added that the service was "so powerful" and admitted that she didn't know it would be televised. "That was my first time walking into a funeral that was televised and a funeral of someone who was killed by a police officer," she said. "I thought that was really tremendous."

    "The eulogies that were given were so powerful. It was a great message and I cried so much," she said. "Not just for Floyd, but for all of those people that passed away and all of my friends and my family members that are locked up."

    Attendees participated in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to acknowledge how long the Minneapolis police officer's knee was on Floyd's neck. During that time, Haddish thought, "What if someone's knee was on my neck for this long? How helpless were my friends when they were being attacked?"

    "The amount of pain I felt was tremendous," she recalled, noting that she cried throughout the funeral.

    The comedian also discussed how she's been having a hard time staying positive. "I like to think of myself as an administrator of joy," she said. "During this time, it has been so difficult for me to express any kind of joy or bring any kind of happiness cause I'm watching — I'm literally sitting back watching the world fall apart. … And it feels like it needs to fall apart."

    "Things need to fall apart and be put back together again in a way that's fair," she added.

  • Fallon Talks Blackface Controversy With Don Lemon, NAACP President

    Jimmy Fallon apologized for wearing blackface and discussed how to move forward after George Floyd's death with NAACP president Derrick Johnson and CNN Tonight anchor Don Lemon on June 1. 

    At the top of Monday night's episode, the host noted that he was going to have a "different kind of show" in light of the weekend's nationwide protests. Noting that a sketch of him performing blackface on Saturday Night Live had reemerged the previous week, Fallon said that at the time he was "horrified" but was being advised "to just stay quiet and to not say anything." "So I thought about it and realized that I can't not say 'I'm horrified and I'm sorry and I'm embarrassed.'" After he apologized last week, Fallon said he talked to some experts, some of whom appeared on the show on Monday.

    "The silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing, staying silent. We need to say something, we need to keep saying something, and we need to say 'That's not OK' more than one day on Twitter."

    With his first guest, Johnson, Fallon noted that he wanted to learn how to move forward "and figure out how to be a better ally." Johnson advised, "Keeping the dialogue open, appreciating the uniqueness we all bring to the table and celebrating that uniqueness and not allowing demagogues to create otherness from people who may be different."

    Later on in the show, CNN's Lemon, who earlier in the weekend had called for Hollywood figures to speak out about George Floyd's death and ensuing protests, joined Fallon. "That's exactly what we all need to do, examine ourselves. That was very honest and brave of you," Lemon said of Fallon's opening monologue. "I wish more people would do that because we can't go back to the way we were."

    Striking a more hopeful tone, Lemon said there was a path to a better America if people stopped "making excuses for racism." "The biggest thing is to take some action. Use whatever platform you have, wherever you are and try to do something for a person of color, or understand a person of color or improve conditions. When something happens in the workplace that you perceive to be discriminatory, don't stand by, speak up!" 

    The CNN host returned to his comments about the lack of action and public support from people in Hollywood, explaining that he didn't mean to "call people out … in a derogatory or negative way," and he apologized to those who were doing things behind the scenes. However, he said people in Hollywood should be helping the thousands of young protestors as well as helping "to change that narrative about 'All of this is rioting' and 'Black people are causing chaos.'" 

    Lemon explained why he mentioned "bold names" in his commentary saying, "The reason I said that is because there's a vacuum of leadership in this country and we live in a very celebrity-driven society and people listen to artists of all kinds." 

    He added, "It's a call to action for everyone to do what they can because it's a critical moment for our country."