There’s nothing unusual about late night hosts taking aim at President Trump during their shows. But Tuesday night, viewers were treated to a rare, if not unprecedented, sight: three rival hosts joining forces (one might even call it colluding) to respond to the president’s comments from Monday’s rally in South Carolina.
While speaking at a reelection event for South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Trump voiced his distaste for late-night hosts, refusing to even say Stephen Colbert’s name, calling him only “that guy on CBS.” He also described the comedians, including Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, as “lowlifes,” “lost souls” and “terrible.”
“Honestly, are these people funny?” Trump asked the crowd, earning a resounding “No.”
Trump’s comments prompted late-night comics Colbert, Fallon and Conan O’Brien to team up in a taped segment that opened both “The Late Show” and “The Tonight Show.” O’Brien’s show is on hiatus this week. It is still unclear exactly how the collaboration came about, but O’Brien told Variety that Colbert reached out to him the Tuesday morning the clip aired.
The cold open begins with Colbert seated behind a computer working on a monologue.
He pens a quick joke about Trump before a video call from Fallon comes in.
“Hey, low life,” Fallon said, to which Colbert responded jovially, “Hey, lost soul. What are you up to?” (The comics were referring to some of the insults Trump used to slam them Monday night.)
“Mostly whimpering,” Fallon said, eyes downcast as he referenced the president’s recent tweet lambasting him for his apology.
“Be a man,” Colbert advised, also parroting Trump’s words.
When asked by Fallon what he was up to, Colbert said he was “busy having no talent,” another barb Trump hurled at the late-night hosts.
The pair moved on to directly discuss the rally, both saying they hadn’t watched it. Fallon told Colbert he heard that the president had “said some pretty bad stuff about us.”
“Really? That doesn’t sound like him,” Colbert said.
“I heard he said we’re all no-talent, lowlife, lost souls,” Fallon said.
“Well, that’s not right. That’s Conan,” Colbert said, before calling O’Brien.
O’Brien, in the middle of shaving, seemed utterly clueless about Trump’s recent activities, including the fact that he’s president.
“President who?” he said, after Fallon explained that he and Colbert were talking about the rally.
“Donald Trump? The real estate guy who sells steaks? He’s president?” said a baffled O’Brien, before asking, “Wow, how’s he doing?”
“Not so good,” Colbert responded bluntly.
“Well, guys, give him time, okay,” O’Brien said. “And remember, please be civil. If we’re not careful this thing could start to get ugly.”
O’Brien then signed off the call, leaving Colbert and Fallon to discuss their lunch plans.
“What do you want to eat?” Colbert asked.
“Red Hen?” Fallon suggested, naming the restaurant at which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was dining last week when she was asked to leave.
“Red Hen,” Colbert confirmed with a decisive nod, ending the call.
In his monologue following the opening clip, Colbert continued to make fun of Trump, criticizing the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to uphold the president’s travel ban as well as addressing Monday’s rally.
Colbert played a clip of Trump speaking about immigration policy following the decision.
“It’s called, ‘I’m sorry you can’t come in’,” Trump said.
“Hey, stop stealing your ideas from the sign on Melania’s door,” Colbert quipped. “It’s not right. That’s plagiarism.”
Colbert also talked about Trump’s speech in South Carolina and his tirade against late-night hosts.
“He went after Jimmy Fallon. He went after Jimmy Kimmel. Then he went after someone else on TV you know and love,” Colbert said before playing a video of Trump hurling insults at “the guy on CBS.”
“Hey, Mr. President, I will not stand here and let you talk that way about James Corden,” Colbert declared, referencing the British late-night host who also has a show on CBS.
Colbert proceeded to launch an impassioned defense of Corden, before abruptly stopping once he received word the president was actually talking about him, not Corden.
“Oh, to which I say, no talent? Have you seen this?” Colbert asked, folding his ear in on itself and staring confidently into the camera.
On “The Tonight Show,” Fallon also brought up the rally but chose not to rehash the president’s epithets about him and his fellow late-night hosts. Instead, he commented on Trump saying people should “toot their own horns.”
“The last time someone else tooted Trump’s horn it cost him $130,000,” Fallon said.