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James Corden’s Late Late Show brought back a studio audience on Monday night for the first time since March 10, 2020, becoming the latest late night program to resume taping with an in-person crowd since the coronavirus vaccines became widely available earlier this year.
The show opened with a panoramic look at the audience, with crowd members standing as they applauded and cheered wildly.
“We’re very happy we can see all of your eyes and eyebrows,” Corden said of the masked audience, which he referred to as a “select gathering.”
He then joked, “Why did we stop having an audience? What was the reason for that?”
Bandleader Reggie Watts quipped: “I think we just wanted to try something different.”
Ahead of Monday night’s show, Corden’s team announced that the number of audience members would be reduced to 50 (from 170) to allow for social distancing. All audience members were required to show proof of vaccination, participate in a health screening and wear a mask.
Prior to the return of the studio audience, Corden’s in-person “audience” comprised members of the show’s staff, with whom he would regularly engage in on-camera banter; that continued on Monday’s show.
The CBS late night program is one of the last shows to welcome a crowd back into its studio, with fellow L.A.-shot late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live! bringing back a live audience in June.
The New York-based Late Show With Stephen Colbert on CBS and NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon returned to live-audience tapings earlier this year. In March, Fallon became the first of the major nightlies to bring back a limited crowd, before expanding to a full audience on June 7, while Colbert welcomed back his in-person audience on June 14.
Corden’s move leaves NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Trevor Noah as the only major nightly late shows without in-person audiences.
For his part, Meyers is set to bring back a studio audience on Oct. 11, with guests required to wear masks and provide proof that they’re fully vaccinated, while Noah is currently taping his show from a new studio without an in-person audience.
All of the major nightly late shows suspended live-audience tapings in March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic descended on the U.S., with the shows resuming filming remotely initially before a staggered return to their studios.
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