Late-Night Hosts Target "Breaking Point" of Government Shutdown

Late night hosts used President Donald Trump's government shutdown, which has currently been in effect for 18 days, as fuel for comedic material on Monday night. 

On Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host said in his Closer Look segment, "Our political system feels like it's at a breaking point. It was always fragile, but then Donald Trump came along and wrecked it. He's like the guy at a party watching a game of Jenga going 'Take that one, no THAT one.' And then finally someone says, 'You know what? If you think it's so easy, you try it.' And then he just lights the entire Jenga tower on fire."

"Boom, now I collect the insurance money and build a bigger tower," Meyers said in character. 

"There is no better test of a political leader than this," Meyers continued, as himself. "Can you keep the government running? And Trump is now failing this test for the third time in his presidency and realizing you don't get rehired after that. He's like a stoner at a pizza place."

Meyers went on to explore the real-world consequences that Trump's border wall obsession has created, including the hundreds of thousands of federal workers going without pay, food stamps being cut, rental assistance lost and tax refunds delayed. 

"Look, sometimes you take a job that ends so badly that you have to change your name," Meyers said. "You take a job as Donald J. Trump and you leave it as Prisoner 567891."

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the host highlighted the buildup of trash in national parks as a result of the government shutdown. “It’s possible that he’s bringing up walls and wheels because he wants to combine the two. That would be exciting. A short mobile wall that can slide back and forth to repel immigrants where it’s needed,” Colbert noted, tossing to a clip from the classic video game Pong.

The show's animated cold open also addressed the shutdown, with cartoon characters Yogi Bear and Boo Boo breaking into the Oval Office and pouring a filled trash can on Trump's head while the president was discussing the particulars of the border wall. 

Meanwhile, on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the host vowed to employ a different government worker affected by the shutdown on his show each night until the issue is resolved.

"Over 800,000 federal employees are working without pay, and that is Donald Trump doing what Donald Trump does best: not paying the people who work for him," the host quipped.

Kimmel kicked off his series of guest workers with a guard from a federal prison in Victorville, Calif.

"Do you object to being used as a pawn in this fight over a wall?" Kimmel asked, to which the man responded, "Absolutely." 

Over on The Daily Show, host Trevor Noah also discussed the government shutdown.

"The shutdown could keep going for years," said Noah after he shared some news clips. "I bet Trump is just hoping that if it goes on long enough, America can't afford to have another election and then he can just keep being president. Like, 'Unfortunately, there's not enough money for an election, folks. We only have the funds to print one ballot and I get to use it, so my vote is for Chester Cheeto."'

The host noted that the longer the shutdown goes on for, the worse it is for the country. He then compared the situation to leaving your pet cat alone for a weekend and for an indefinite amount of time. "They escape and then they leave," he said. "At 17 days into this shutdown, let's just say that America's cats are starting to stink."

A number of news clips explained that national parks are not being tended to and are now infested with garbage and human waste. "The shutdown has gotten so bad that at national parks, Americans are pooping on the ground," said Noah. "Who's the shithole country now?"

"At the same time, though, I thought shitting on the ground was just what you go camping in the woods. I don't know why this is a problem," he continued. "I don't go camping because I'm black, but it's what I always assumed people do."

The host shared that 800,000 federal employees are currently not getting paid. While many federal employees have taken to Twitter to share their financial struggles during the shutdown, Trump has said that they are making sacrifices for a bigger purpose.

"Why is Trump fantasizing about what people are saying about the shutdown instead of just listening to what they are saying about the shutdown?" asked Noah.

"Before you get totally mad at Trump, remember he isn't the kind of person to just kick people out of work without offering them any help," he said. "In fact, his office of personal management is giving unpaid government workers some handy advice on how to cope without cash."

A news clip followed with the suggestions, including the workers doing chores or performing maintenance work in exchange for rent.

"You want people to trade rent for carpentry? So we're going back to the barter system?" he said. "I knew Trump was going to make America go backwards, but not to the middle ages."

Noah concluded the segment by sharing the "depressing news" that the shutdown does not seem to be ending any time soon.

The Late Late Show also kicked off its first episode of 2019 by discussing the shutdown.

"We just spent the last two weeks not working, so pretty much like the federal government," said host James Corden.

He joked the Trump referred to the 17-day shutdown as "the biggest, most fabulous shutdown ever."

Corden pointed out that Trump's refusal to end the shutdown until the government has $5 billion to build the border wall contradicts his plan from the presidential campaign. "I think we all remember his campaign promise where he said, 'We're gonna build a wall and we're gonna make a bunch of government employees pay for it,'" he joked.

The host also shared Trump's comment that he "can relate" to the federal government employees that are financially struggling. "Makes sense. I mean, no one's more relatable than Donald Trump," he said. "He's just a regular working class family man."

"To be fair though, maybe he can relate. Trump's filed for bankruptcy six times, right? He's actually built his entire career on not being able to pay bills," said Corden. "And he does just spend days sitting on a couch, watching TV and tweeting. Trump's basically unemployed."

Over on The Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon wished his audience a happy 2019 before he touched on the government shutdown.

"Right now it's tough to say what will last longer: The government shutdown or your neighbor's Christmas decorations. I don't know," he said.

He then told his audience about Trump's plan to continue to shutdown until he receives the $5 billion for his wall. "The Democrats have a plan. They're gonna make Trump wear one of those blindfolds from Bird Box and just tell him there's a wall," he said. '"Don't take it off! Don't take it off!'"

Fallon shared a clip from an event with Trump and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, in which Trump appeared to forget McCarthy's name. "Thank you, Steve," said Trump after McCarthy finished his statement.

"'Steve is short for Steven, which is basically Kevin'" said Fallon with a Trump impression.

Due to the shutdown, TSA agents are not being paid and 170 of them did not show up to work at JFK International Airport on Friday. "It got awkward when passengers got to security and they had to pat down themselves," joked Fallon.

He then commented on Trump's tweet that included an image of himself and the wall, which read "The wall is coming." Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer responded to the tweet by telling Trump to lay off the memes.

"Trump didn't stop. He doubled down on using popular memes. Next, he tweeted the meme of a kid pumping his fist that said, 'That feeling when your meme makes Chuck Schumer mad,'" joked Fallon. "And Schumer responded with a meme of Grumpy Cat that said, 'Stop.'"