Late-Night Hosts Revisit "Crazy" Democratic Debate: "These Folks Said a Lot of Words, and I Did Not Hear Many of Them"

Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert_Split - Getty - H 2020
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; John Lamparski/Getty Images

Following the 10th Democratic debate on Tuesday in South Carolina, late-night hosts Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert went live on their respective shows to offer their political and social commentary on the biggest takeaways of the event. 

Candidates who qualified for the debate and took the stage at the Gaillard Center in Charleston were Sen. Bernie Sanders, former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer.

Moderators for the debate were CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King, CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Margaret Brennan, CBS News' chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker.

On The Daily Show, Noah exclaimed about the debate, "It was a little crazy!" as the show cut to clips of the seven candidates arguing with one another over who signed which particular bill. "I haven't seen white people go at each other that hard since khakis were on sale at Banana Republic," quipped the late-night host.

He then acknowledged that the candidates were going hard as the South Carolina primary is only days away, which is followed by Super Tuesday. "Every candidate needed to do well," Noah said, joking that Bloomberg may have needed it more than most.

As the show cut again to clips of news anchors critiquing Bloomberg's past performances, The Daily Show revisited a line that Sanders said during Tuesday's debate: "The economy is doing really great for Mr. Bloomberg and other billionaires." Noah went on to say, "If Bernie was a boxer, he'd be the kind of boxer who would hit you in the locker room before the fight."

Continuing that thread, he referenced the way Elizabeth Warren "slammed [Bloomberg] for bankrolling Republicans" at the first debate, and how she "came after him" again tonight. 

Noah also went after Buttigieg, likening him to a teenager for asking his supporters to donate to his campaign; and Klobuchar, for asking at one point during a conversation about gun control laws, "Do they hurt my Uncle Dick in the deerstand?" Noah made a joke about Uncle Dick watching the broadcast at home and wishing he be referred to as "Richard."

Noah later observed, "All the candidates made sure to show everyone that they were down with the brown," as The Daily Show cut to the candidates talking about racial issues. "They did have some interesting ideas about race," Noah said, noting that Klobuchar talked about fair housing and Buttigieg spoke about the struggles facing black people. 

Acknowledging that some candidates went hard on Sanders, The Daily Show segment revisited some memorable lines from the evening. "Bernie has in fact not passed much of anything," said Biden. "I think I would make a better president than him," said Warren. 

The late-night host went on to note that "it's not surprising" that all the moderates went after Sanders, as they know that the only way one of them is going to beat him is for the others to drop out. "Everyone knows someone has to leave, but nobody wants to be the one to do it," Noah said. The show cut to a parody of a Sanders campaign, where he endorses everyone in the race.

Over on The Late Show, Colbert opened introduced a segment titled "Fury Road to the White House," showing a clip of the candidates dropped into the frenetic, action-packed world of Mad Max. "These folks said a lot of words, and I did not hear many of them," the late-night host admitted, referencing the fact that candidates were speaking over one another and talking fast.

He went on to point out that "one candidate wasn't exactly in top form coming into the debate," revealing the individual to be Biden. The show cut to a clip of the former vice president at a speaking engagement the night before, where he said during his introduction, "I'm Joe Biden, I'm a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate" instead of identifying himself as a presidential candidate.

Colbert later said that the debate "kicked off with a couple of haymakers between Sanders and Bloomberg," noting the same comment from Sanders about billionaires and the economy that Noah referenced in his segment, and how Bloomberg went after Sanders by saying that Russia is helping him get elected. 

The late-night host joked that "Mayor Bloomberg kept workshopping his comedy" throughout the debate, highlighting his "naked cowboy" comment — which referenced the shirtless, cowboy-hat donning guitarist in Times Square — along with the accidental comedy of Klobuchar's "Uncle Dick" line. "I'm pretty sure Michael Bloomberg had to sign an NDA for talking about his 'Uncle Dick in a Deerstand,'" Colbert laughed. 

Revisiting Sanders' comment to Vladimir Putin — "If I'm president, you won't be interfering in any more elections" — Colbert launched into an impersonation of Sanders, mimicking his speech patterns. This was one of several impersonations Colbert performed during the segment, with another coming in the form of a song. "Things got a little shouty [during the health care conversation]" said the late-night host, singing, 'let's talk about math, baby, let's talk about health, baby' in the voice of Sanders. 

"I had a decaf at 5:30 this morning and I am amped!" Colbert declared, again in the voice of Sanders. 

Turning again to Biden, Colbert referenced his answer to the question from moderators, "What is the common misconception about you?" Biden's response was, "That I have more hair than I think I do." Quipped Colbert, "So your biggest misconception that people have about you is a misconception you have about yourself?"

Noting that Sanders' misconception was that people think his ideas are "radical" when they are in fact not, Colbert seized the opportunity to launch into another impersonation, picking up from where Sanders left off in his sentence about all the places in the world that have his ideas in place. "...in countries like Venezuala, Cuba, Mordor," Colbert joked. 

Of his impressions, Colbert explained that he can only do Sanders and Biden, though he did attempt an appearance as Mayor Buttigieg.