After some jokes, bits, and a new segment called “The Good Bad and Ugly,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah -- in Philadelphia this week for the Democratic National Convention -- got down to some serious business on Tuesday’s edition.
His guest, Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, was asked about history (and Hillary) in-the-making: The nomination of the first female candidate for president by a major party earlier that day.
“Do you think sometimes people forget what a historic occasion this is?” Noah asked.
Podesta was pragmatic, or realistic (“we’ve got a long fight ahead of us”).
But the late night guys are people, too. Did they decide it was a “historic occasion,” or otherwise?
Let’s go to the clips:
Jimmy Kimmel had this to say on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”: “Hillary Clinton today officially became the first woman ever to be nominated by a major party in the United States. Which –- even if she doesn’t win, that is gonna look great on her resume.”
Stephen Colbert of “The Late Show” meanwhile took the occasion to introduce a new character to “Late Show,” the Cartoon Hillary, counterpart to Cartoon Trump introduced months ago. (Look at the Cartoon Hill! She laughs, smiles, waves on cue -- and has all the human warmth and spontaneity of C-3PO.)
Then, Jimmy Fallon in a “Tonight Show” Pro and Con segment -- a long-running gag that lists “pros,” then their unfortunate counterpart -- he cited one obvious pro of the Clinton campaign, her catchy slogan, “I’m with Her.”
But the con -- The full quote it’s pulled from reads, “I’m with her but I was with Bernie Sanders, but that didn’t work out, so the other option is Donald Trump, so I’m with her ... yeah.”
History sort of noted, the late night guys moved on to other matters -- for example, Bill Clinton, who spoke Tuesday night.
Colbert: “The DNC brought out the big dog, potential First Ladies Man...”
Cut to a clip of Clinton: “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl...”
Cut back to Colbert: “Bill, this night is supposed to be about Hillary ...”
Oh, and Kimmel: “Bill Clinton spoke tonight. Of course, he strongly supported his wife to be our next president – and Melania Trump to be his next first lady.”
Anyway, you get the gist. History was made Tuesday and in tribute, the later night guys set out the whoopee cushions.
Disrespect? That’s not quite the word here. Late night comedy isn’t about sanctifying history or sacred cows either. (Colbert did note that a glass ceiling had just been shattered, and as demonstration, that remarkable CGI-enhanced ceiling in the Ed Sullivan shattered on cue.) Also, as Colbert accurately noted Monday in his cold open, “Death, Taxes, Hillary,” there’s been an inevitability to this historic moment for years. Perhaps it would have been an even more historic moment is Hillary Clinton had NOT been nominated.
Nevertheless, there was still a late night nonchalance about the whole day -- a sort of ho-hum reaction that bordered on “interesting” but hardly “ground (or ceiling) shattering.”
There could be reasons for this (see above: Inevitability). The late night guys are guys. Would a late night woman respond differently? Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” missed the historic nomination by just a day (her show aired Monday) but she will be back Wednesday for a special edition.
However, Bee was involved in an unusual disagreement with her own network, TBS on Tuesday. The TBS website, the Heckler, sent out a tweet Monday night saying,
“Move over Donkey! (referring to the Democrat’s mascot) There’s a new mascot in town … #ImWithShea.” That was accompanied by a fastcut of Clinton laughing with hyenas.
Bee retweeted it, adding: “Delete your account.”
Tuesday morning, TBS issued a statement: “This post was obviously a poor attempt at humor and has been taken down. Moving forward we’ll leave political satire to professionals like Samantha Bee.”
So to recap: On Tuesday, history was made, the late night guys laughed, the once-a-week-late night-lady was outraged and the shows go on.
But -- yup -- it would be interesting and important and significant to have a female host on one of the Big Three network late night shows. Even David Letterman -- spitball thrower and supreme sacred cow slayer -- has said as much.
A female host of a major late night talk show on ABC, CBS or NBC?
Now THAT, my friends -- THAT would be history.