A giant hoax, foolish media, college football and sex (or lack thereof): the Manti Te’o story has all the elements for late night comedy gold. And Thursday night, various hosts were happy to start mining.
All across the TV dial, comedians were cracking jokes at the incredible story of the Notre Dame star with the fake girlfriend.
“In his defense, Brent Musberger said that she was really hot,” Letterman cracked, referencing the ogling the college football announcer did of the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend during the National Championship game. “I feel bad for the kid, because when I was in college, stuff like that would happen. I would meet a lot of women, and they would give me imaginary phone numbers. And then one time, it was really sad, a beautiful woman actually faked her death to get out of going to the prom with me.”
“The only other athlete that I can think of with an imaginary girlfriend is Kris Humphries,” Letterman added, with a nod to Kim Kardashian, who was a guest on his show the night before.
Conan O’Brien also made jokes at his own expense, saying Te’o was being accused of “fraud, deception and plagiarizing me in high school … Her name was Eileen and we loved each other very much.”
“Some say the hoax involving Manti Te’o could harm his rank in the draft,” O’Brien said. “On the other hand, it could open an entirely new branch of fantasy football.”
Later, Letterman unveiled his Te’o-inspired Top 10 list: “Top 10 Signs You Have an Imaginary Girlfriend.” Among them: “You describe her to friends as ‘a nondescript female with eyes and hair,” “Someone says, ‘Tell me about your girlfriend,’ and you say ‘Hmmm, let me think of something,'” “Your imaginary friend is dating her sister,” and finally, “Said she’s too shy to meet your friends, family and you.”
Jimmy Fallon jumped on it as well. “It’s a pretty big scandal, or as Manti Te’o put it, ‘I’m going to have to talk to Oprah, aren’t I?'” he said, leading off a flurry of Te’o monologue jokes. “Manti Te’o’s online girlfriend was a fabrication. When they heard that, nerds were like, ‘Man–even imaginary girls only like jocks.'”
He also played “audio” of the girlfriend, while Jimmy Kimmel presented “video” of her.