All the late-night TV shows started out on a serious note Monday, as the hosts addressed the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Trevor Noah and James Corden were in disbelief over American gun culture. Conan O’Brien was devastated to realize how many times he’s had to talk about mass shootings. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers urged Congress to take action on gun control. Jimmy Fallon stayed true to his entertainment-first roots and had Miley Cyrus and Adam Sandler open the show with Dido’s “No Freedom.”
Here are some excerpts from each host’s take:
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” on Comedy Central
What’s been particularly heartbreaking is other than the lives lost is how I feel like people are becoming more accustomed to this type of news, every single time. I almost know how it’s going to play out. We’re shocked. We’re sad. Thoughts and prayers. And then, almost on cue, people are going to come out saying, “Whenever you do, when speaking about the shootings, don’t talk about guns.” . . .
This is not the time to be talking about guns? . . . And also, if you say after a mass shooting is never the time, then you’ll never have the conversation in America, because there’s a mass shooting in America almost every single day. So when is the time? . . .
We seem to do everything to avoid talking about guns. I’ve never been to a country where people are as afraid to speak about guns. Every time there’s a shooting, you gotta look at something else. Is it Muslims? Is it their religion, is that what it is? Is it blacks? It’s the blacks. It’s the black-on-black crime. Is it mentally ill people? Is it white nationalists? Every time, it’s a different question. And now, after this incident in Las Vegas, we’re asking a new question: Is it hotels? . . .
So just to keep track of the arguments: mass shooting, mass shooting, mass shooting, mass shooting, mass shooting, mass shooting — we have to take care of this hotel check-in issue.
“Conan” on TBS
I’ve been doing this job for more than 24 years, and when I began in 1993, occasions like this were extremely rare. For me or any TV comedy host back then to come out and need to address a mass shooting spree was practically unheard of. But over the last decade, things have changed.
Now, today when I came in to work, my head writer was standing in my office with a sheaf of papers and he said, “Here are the remarks you made after the Sandy Hook shootings and the Pulse nightclub attacks in Orlando. You might want to look at them to see what you might want to say tonight.”
And that, that struck me. How could there be a file of mass shooting remarks for a late-night host? When did that become normal? When did this become a ritual? And what does it say about us that it has?
Now, I am not the most political of our comics. I never have been. But I will repeat what I said not long ago after Orlando. I don’t think it should be so easy for one demented person to kill so many people so quickly. The sounds of those automatic weapons last night are grotesquely out of place in a civilized society. It makes no sense to me as a reasonable human being and a father. . . . Something needs to change. It really does.
“Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on CBS
This afternoon, the president called this an “act of pure evil.” And I think he’s right. So, what, then, are we willing to do to combat “pure evil?” The answer can’t be nothing. It can’t.
This time, it was a concert in Las Vegas. Last time, it was Republican congressmen and their staff under fire on a ball field. Last week, Representative Steve Scalise returned to the floor and was greeted with a bipartisan hero’s welcome. It was the kind of moment that gives you hope that Congress might work together for the common good. And the bar is so low right now that Congress can be heroes by doing literally anything: Universal background checks. Or come up with a better answer. Enforce Obama’s executive order that denied the mentally ill gun purchases. Or a better answer. Reinstate the assault weapons ban. Or come up with a better answer. Anything but nothing. Doing nothing is cowardice. Doing something will take courage.
. . . And now, President Trump: You’ve said you wanted to be a transformative president who doesn’t care about the way things have always been done in Washington, D.C. This is your chance to prove it. And I mean this sincerely — you do not owe the Republicans anything. You know the Republicans tried to stop you from being president. Well, screw ’em. Want to make America great again? Do something the last two presidents haven’t been able to do. Pass any kind of common-sense gun control legislation that the vast majority of Americans want. Because if we are facing pure evil, then by all means, offer thoughts and prayers. But think about what you need to do and pray for the courage to do it.
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC
President Trump is visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday, he spoke this morning, said he’s praying for those who lost their lives. You know, in February, he also signed a bill that made it easier for people with severe mental illness to buy guns legally. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a number of other lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip, also sent their thoughts and their prayers today, which is good. They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country, because it’s so crazy.
Right now, there are loopholes in the law that let people avoid background checks if they buy a gun privately from another party, if they buy a gun online or at a gun show. So I want to show you something. These are the faces of the senators who, days after the shooting in Orlando, voted against a bill that would have closed those loopholes. These are the 56 senators who didn’t want to do anything about that.
(Read Kimmel’s complete monologue here.)
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on NBC
This morning, we woke up to the news of another senseless shooting, this time in Las Vegas. In the face of tragedies and acts of terror, we need to remember that good still exists in this world. We’re here to entertain you tonight, and that’s what we’re going to do.
“Late Night With Seth Meyers” on NBC
We’ve talked about gun violence on this show before, and I’m not sure what else I can say. I also know nothing I say will make any difference at all. But to Congress, I would just like to say, are there no steps we can take as a nation to prevent gun violence? Or, is this just how it is and how it’s going to continue to be?
Because when you say — which you always say — “Now is not the time to talk about it,” what you really mean is, there is never a time to talk about it. And it would be so much more honest if you would just admit that your plan is to never talk about it and never take any action.
Congressman Steve Scalise who, in a wonderful, a truly wonderful moment, returned to the House floor four months after being shot himself said that his being alive is proof that miracles really do happen. But is that the best plan D.C. has for dealing with gun violence? When there’s a shooting, we just pray for a miracle? Because maybe that is it.
But if you’re not willing to do anything, just be honest and tell us.
“Late Late Show With James Corden” on CBS
I come from a place where we don’t have shootings at this frequency so it’s hard for me to fathom. But it should be hard for everyone to fathom. Gun violence should not be a staple of American life. Some say it’s too early to talk about gun control. For those victims last night, it’s far too late.
I heard today a commentator on the news explaining that there is no real way to prevent lone wolf mass shootings like this. And forgive me, because I’m just a foreigner here and some of you feel I have no place to say this: But how does every other developed country do a better job of preventing these attacks? We can’t be surprised that gun crime will always occur where there is such wide availability of guns.
I saw a quote from Robert Kennedy that stayed with me today. He said that “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” Now is the time for gaining that wisdom. Somewhere, it has to stop. Maybe the time for the thoughts and prayers of Congress members and the president have passed. We need to look to them to actually do something to prevent this from ever happening in the future.