Stephen Colbert Tackles Historic Midterms in Live Show: "We'll All Crumble Together"

“If you remember our last live election show, well, that makes one of us."
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS
'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

Stephen Colbert took the Late Show live for the midterms on Tuesday night. 

The host similarly broadcast his CBS show, usually filmed a few hours before airing from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, during the 2016 presidential election.

As the results of that election rolled in, and it became clear that Donald Trump would be elected as the 45th President of the United States, Colbert had to manage his guests and crowd, which were clearly left-leaning, against the news. 

On Tuesday, Colbert was joined by The Circus' John Heilemann, who was also the host's guest in 2016, and Alex Wagner.

In addition to the two political pundits, Colbert also welcomed fellow Daily Show alum and current Patriot Act host Hasan Minhaj to the Late Show's live event.

The host kicked off the show by “pretending to vote” in a pre-taped segment that quickly turned into a song about the 2016 election and compared America’s current state to a sinking submarine. “We may collapse from all the pressure but if we do at least we’ll all crumble together,” Colbert intoned.

During his opening monologue, Colbert addressed the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives. “That’s the first news of the evening…they can now open investigations into the president and we can finally find out if Donald Trump has ever done anything unethical,” the host said.

After showing footage of Fox News reporting the Democrats victory, Colbert said, “Is Donald Trump right? Is Fox the only not-fake news? Are we in the upside-down?” he asked, referencing Netflix’s Stranger Things.

After tossing to a clip of Trump saying that the midterms used to be “boring” and are now a much bigger deal, Colbert said, “Gee, I wonder why? It used to be super boring to run out of the pool screaming, but ever since I pooped in it, it became all the rage.”

Colbert did, of course, reference his 2016 live show. “If you remember our last live election show, well, that makes one of us. The bad news that night took me a bit off-guard, but tonight I’m prepared,” he said as he pulled out a bottle of bourbon.

Bringing up Ted Cruz’s victory over Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Colbert quipped, “By not being Ted Cruz, Beto is still a winner.”

“The last time I was here two years ago…it was bad,” Heilemann said as joined Colbert onstage. He then gifted Colbert with a bottle of bourbon.

Of the so-called "blue wave" of Democratic voters, Heilemann said, “It’s not a tsunami, but it’s not a puddle."


“The wave is pink,” Wagner said. “Of the seats Democrats flipped, 15 of those are female candidates and that’s a big deal.”

Minhaj came on later and discussed O'Rourke's loss to Cruz. "I am sad that he lost, but it’s actually not a partisan thing. He had all of black excellence backing him. Beyonce, Travis Scott…LeBron James,” he said, to which Colbert added Willie Nelson.

When Colbert asked Minhaj why he didn't focus on Trump on his show, the Netflix host compared the president to Harry Potter villain Voldemort and said he didn't want to "give him the time."

Colbert closed out the show by gathering all his guests onstage together to go over the night’s results.. “I feel like we still call this place the United States of America but really, and pardon the cliche, but it feels like the Divided States of America,” Wagner said.

When Colbert asked if the 2020 race was starting right now, Heilemann said, “It started an hour ago.”

Colbert was not the only late-night host to go live on Election Night as Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah also helmed live broadcasts of their programs.