Late Night Lately: The Hosts Kick Off Debate Season

8:00 AM 6/29/2019

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 Comedy Central, NBC and CBS

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: Several hosts went live after the first Democratic presidential debates. First up, Stephen Colbert discussed the large debate stage with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who likened it to a high school classroom: "some folks that didn't seem like they read the book and then they got called on." Later, during their live shows, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and Colbert all poked fun at the debate's jabs at Joe Biden, NBC's technical glitches, the candidates' knowledge of Spanish and more. 

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman  

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Compares First Debate to "High School Classroom"

    Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

    Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited The Late Show on Wednesday following the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate. 

    Ocasio-Cortez compared the debate stage to a classroom. "Sometimes with the debate stage this big, it can kind of seem like a high school classroom and so there are some folks that didn't seem like they read the book and then they got called on," she said. "It depends on the question. So they'll answer the question or still get called on and I don't think some candidates thought that they were gonna get called on a certain question and they'll be like, 'Yes, the hero was courageous and the protagonist of the story.'"

    Colbert asked her what she thought about de Blasio. "I think he was good. I think what I have learned, too, going to D.C. is not everyone is accustomed to being a New Yorker and I have to work with Iowans and Minnesotans and stuff and they're like, 'Whoa, hey relax. Take it down a bit,'" she said. "The country has worked with New Yorkers. We have to atone, I think, for the one we have in the White House now, so we owe the country good New Yorkers."

    "I think that there were communities that got centered tonight," she said and noted that the trans and immigrant communities were both focused on during the debate. "I think that that was an extraordinary moment, as well."

  • Hosts Address Second Democratic Debate's Biden Jabs

    Comedy Central

    As the second Democratic debate of 2019 concluded Thursday, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon went live to focus on the night's jabs against Joe Biden.

    Noah described the second debate as a "fairly chill" event but one that still had some standout moments, turning his attention to Swalwell taking a shot at "sleepy Joe" by telling him to "pass the torch." "That's right, Biden is not letting go of that torch, even though that torch is really uncomfortable and telling Biden he's [not really into] him holding onto it," Noah joked. 

    Meanwhile, Harris also took a shot at Biden, as she pressed on his comments on segregationists, something Noah found to confirm that Biden had a "target on his back" throughout the night. "Holy shit, she just pulled an M. Night Shyamalan. She was black the whole movie! I didn't see that moment coming, did you? That whole moment was so brutal on Joe Biden I wanted to give him a massage."

    To celebrate Biden's lead in the polls, his supporters were handed out free ice cream called "Joe Cones," which Colbert jabbed was "what Biden also wears to make sure he respects personal space each day." "Tonight, the Joe Cone was met by the Kamala Harris flame-thrower. He had the Joe Cone, but she had the I-scream-you-scream-holy-cow-she-might-be-president!" 

    Meanwhile, when Harris spoke about race to Biden, Colbert said: "I believe Harris on busing because she clearly just took Biden to school." Colbert then turned his attention to Swalwell's "pass the torch" jab at Biden. "Swalwell already has that torch because that was a sick burn." 

    Meyers took a "Closer Look" at the second debate night, primarily focusing on how much of a target Biden seemed to be among candidates. Of Swalwell's jab, Meyers said: "Damn. You're bringing a Biden quote to take down Biden? Come on! If anyone is going to take down Joe Biden with a Joe Biden quote, it's Joe Biden," Meyers said. The host also mentioned that Biden tends to flash a big smile despite the circumstances: "Joe Biden uses his teeth like Wonder Woman uses her bracelets. That zinger just bounced right off the pearly white wall."

    "It was clear everyone wanted a shot at Biden tonight," the late-night host added. "Man who didn't get a crack at Biden during this debate? Surprised one of the moderators didn't go 'Hey, man, you were great in Gran Torino.'" 

    Jimmy Fallon also broadcast a live show after the political event, which the host described as "Operation Destroy Joe Biden." "Everyone went after Biden, but with 10 people onstage it seemed less like a debate and more of a lightning round," Fallon said. 

  • Hosts Poke Fun at NBC's Technical Issues


    As the first Democratic debate kicked off Wednesday in Miami, late-night hosts Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon went live to talk about the event, as well as the event's technical problems. 

    Seth Meyers devoted his "Closer Look" segment to the debate, noting that no matter how viewers felt about the candidates, "It was refreshing to see sane human beings speaking coherent sentences on television for a change."

    Meyers commented on NBC's audio glitch mid-show: To moderators Todd and Maddow, Meyers said, "Maybe you guys should have spent more time checking the audio and less time saying 'hi' to each other. I'm surprised Maddow didn't take out a tool kit: 'I can fix it!'"

    In his Late Show monologue, Colbert poked fun at the debate's technical issues and how people talked over each other during question, calling it “an excellent dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s actual debate.” 

    Colbert and bandleader Jon Batiste additionally performed a bit where they stepped over one another's mics, satirizing the audio issue that made NBC moderator Chuck Todd cut to a commercial break during the debate. “It’s really embarrassing to have a live show when you don’t know whose mic is on or off,” Colbert joked.

    Jimmy Fallon recapped the debate. He compared the debate to the Super Bowl "if 20 teams played the game over two nights and the winner wasn't decided for another year." The debate's technical issues were also a target of Fallon's jokes. "Vladimir Putin was like, 'It's too easy,'" he said with a Russian accent.

  • Late Night Evaluates First Debate's Spanish Answers

    Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

    Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the use of Spanish on stage NBC's first Democratic debate. 

    Colbert especially had fun with O'Rourke and Booker's use of Spanish in responses to two different debate questions: O'Rourke was "running for embarrassing dad at a Mexican restaurant,” he said, while when Booker responded in Spanish later, Colbert responded, "Oh, snap!"

    Colbert's guest of the evening was U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who provided commentary on the evening, but not before the live audience chanted "AOC!" as she stepped onto the stage. Of the Spanish spoken in the debates, Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, said, "I loved it, because I represent the Bronx, there was a lot of Spanglish in the building. I thought it was humorous at times. ... I thought it was a good gesture to the fact that we are a diverse country."

    Noah quickly turned his attention to O'Rourke. "Beto O'Rourke, wow, he knows there's one way to spice up a bland affair." [cue him speaking Spanish] "To hear my answer in English, press 1.... This guy was so fluent, I bet half of America felt they had flipped to Univision by mistake."

    Meyers homed in on O'Rourke's initial answer in Spanish: "I mean, I knew he was going to bust out in Spanish, I just didn't know how quickly," he joked.

    Meyers also focused on the "side-eye" that Booker gave O'Rourke during his Spanish answer: "That's not the face of a man who said, 'I can't believe you're pandering, you're speaking Spanish,' but it's actually the face of a man thinking, 'Oh man, I was gonna do that!'" Meyers said, then showing a clip of Booker's Spanish answer later. "You know everyone in tomorrow's debate who wasn't going to speak Spanish is going to spend the night cramming," Meyers said.

    Jimmy Fallon kicked off his coverage of the debate by discussing O'Rourke's decision to speak Spanish. "Trump was watching like, 'Crap, did I hit the SAP button?'" he joked. Fallon then touched on Booker's response in Spanish, which he said sounded "like Arnold Schwarzenegger learning Rosetta Stone."

  • Fallon Plays O'Rourke, Sanders and Trump in "You Need to Calm Down" Parody

    Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

    Jimmy Fallon gave Taylor Swift's pride-inspired song "You Need to Calm Down" a political twist on Thursday's Tonight Show. The parody opened with Fallon sitting in front of a mirror in his dressing room. The host put on a wig that resembled Beto O'Rourke's hair as he sang: "Hola, mi amigos. I am Beto/ Always look like I drank 10 espressos/ And people are like, 'Damn, why is he moving his hands?'" He continued to sing about how he "cannot calm down" for the upcoming 2020 election. "I'm gonna beat Trump/ I can't calm down."

    After Fallon realized that O'Rourke's numbers were down, the host took off the wig and put on a white wig with a receding hairline and glasses to embody Bernie Sanders. As Sanders, Fallon spoke about how he had not changed since the 2016 election. "If you think that I changed, do not worry/ Want free healthcare and a comb for my hair," he loudly said. "They say I'm too loud/ But I am upset about college debt/ So yes, I am loud."

    Fallon took off the glasses and replaced his wig with a blond one to get into character as Donald Trump. "Can't believe I stayed up for the debates/ Just to watch 20 losers and lightweights/ When we all know it'll be sleepy Joe," said Fallon as Trump. "I want to tweet now/ I keep getting blocked, but I'm loaded and I'm cocked/ I'm gonna tweet now."

  • Late-Night Lineup: June 3-July 6

    Many late-night shows are on hiatus this week, but come back next week to see who is slated for your favorite shows! In the meantime, check out past editions of Late Night Lately below:

    June 22Late Night Lately: Jon Stewart Fights Back, James Corden vs. Michelle Obama, Seth Meyers Goes Day Drinking

    June 15Late Night Lately: Beto O'Rourke on Colbert, Mark Hamill on Pre-Hollywood Jobs, Jonas Brothers Return