Spare a thought for the late-night hosts, who, this evening, will attempt to make some sense of the presidential election uncertainty. As the battle between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden continues, and may well continue for days, the likes of Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, James Corden, Trevor Noah, Conan O’Brien and Samantha Bee will return to relatively normal filming schedules to discuss the election.
However, writing jokes and speaking to guests including political folks such as Cory Booker, Shepard Smith and Steve Kornacki this afternoon to air this evening is a perilous task. “Writing punchlines today will be fun,” one late-night writer told Deadline.
There is also the outside possibility that some of these shows may get bumped if definitive news comes in quicker than expected this evening.
On Monday, Jimmy Kimmel Live! revealed that presidential candidate Kanye West was set to appear on Wednesday’s show. However, as Kimmel was announcing the news during his show, the rapper changed his mind.
“On Wednesday, the day after the election, we’ll be joined in studio by maybe the next president of the United States, Kanye West,” Kimmel said. “Oh, he canceled? Kanye canceled moments ago; he will not be here, but I’ll be here. Can I cancel too? Well, we’ll try to get one of the other presidents to come in.”
West ended up managing to get only around 60,000 votes across 12 states Tuesday, so he might have been reticent to discuss his performance.
Instead, the ABC show will have Booker, who defeated Republican Rik Mehta to win his second full term in the Senate, as well as Kerry Washington, who was campaigning for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Michigan on Monday.
The show will also feature a political version of one of its most viral segments – “Politicians Read Mean Tweets” – featuring Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren (see below).
The Late Late Show with James Corden, which had an interview with former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on the night before the election, is expecting a “nervous” show. A source told Deadline: “The show will be as topical as we can be, but we’re recording in afternoon, so by the night anything could have changed. We all feel as nervous as everyone else does, so I’m sure that will be reflected in the show.”
Elsewhere, The Tonight Show will feature MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki. He went viral last night on TikTok thanks to the way that he handled the network’s election board, and even during commercial breaks viewers were able to keep an eye on him with the “Kornacki Cam.” He will be joined by Sarah Silverman, who was one of the celebrities to strip down as part of a recent PSA to gain attention to “naked ballot” laws, and Dua Lipa, who helped to get out the vote with viral interviews with the likes of Sanders during the final days of the campaign.
Common, who was on the campaign trail with Biden and Harris, also will perform “Say Peace,” a commentary on current and historical oppression of Black Americans.
Later on NBC, our best wishes go out to Sal Gentile, writer of Late Night with Seth Meyers’ “A Closer Look” segment. The show will feature a new segment this evening, possibly building on tweets that the comedy writer sent during the night including remarking that “every tweet about turnout is like hearing a twig snap in a horror movie” and calling Trump an “authoritarian despot and soulless husk intent on detonating our democracy” and a “man with room-temperature farina sloshing around in his skull”.
Every single county-level map is like “Biden looking very good in Stonefield County but remember over here in Dinkington County there are approximately six billion Trump votes still to come, so keep an eye on that.”
— Sal Gentile (@salgentile) November 4, 2020
Joining Meyers on Late Night is Supermarket Sweep host and former SNL star and Leslie Jones.
Meanwhile, over on CBS, former Fox News host and current CNBC host Smith will be joining Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. Smith was on NBC News last night and will discuss the experience of hosting a news show on such an unusual night.
Colbert himself is fresh from hosting his own live election special on Showtime, a collection of celebrity guests including Bryan Cranston, Charlamagne Tha God and the hosts of The Circus, where his message to viewers was “hold on tight” — something that still applies today.
Leon Bridges and Lucky Daye, who recently collaborated on R&B hit “All About You.” will be providing a musical distraction on the show.
The Daily Show, on the back of its live election special last night, will be back on its regular schedule tonight with Trevor Noah interviewing history professor Geraldo Cadava, whose new book is The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump, and The New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos, whose new book is Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now. “Today has definitely been a week,” jokes The Daily Show writer Josh Johnson.
Conan will be hosting Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, while weekly show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee also is back this evening. Former Daily Show correspondent Bee and her exec producer Alison Camillo said that they’ve planned for all eventualities, essentially preparing three different shows – one if Biden wins, one if Trump wins and one if the winner is unclear.
This is particularly evident in a Wayne’s World-style sketch featuring ’90s indie rocker Juliana Hatfield that includes three different eventualities, while Bee also hit the streets — remotely via a motorized iPad 00 to interview voters at polling places and mailboxes across New York.
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