Late night fans of a certain age probably relaxed into a nostalgic fainting by seeing the emeritus Jon Stewart “The Daily Show” tour the past two weeks. He has come back into circulation to promote his new film “Irresistible”, but its release is almost to the point, although, obviously, Stewart would love us to watch it.
Instead, what his latest tour offers is a flash of an old family house of lights, confirming that the presence of so many people during the darkest hours of a previous decade still walks among us as Gandalf the Gray.
Even so I can’t quite rightly say that Stewart was so badly missed or that we were all so desperate to hear him. Functionally speaking, Jon Stewart̵
This is not new. But it confirms that, as Stewart said in his recent interview with the New York Times, the role of “The Daily Show” as a critique of news and systems in general is serving viewers better at this time than other varieties of current affairs comedy. And no scenario has made this more evident than the acceleration of support for Black Lives Matter that occurred in the midst of this pandemic.
In the weeks following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Noah became the de facto source for breaking down the black experience in the United States. This began with his convincing explanation of the “social contract” that America has failed to maintain with its black citizens that has since evolved elegantly not only to discuss police brutality and to explain “defund o” movements. abolish, “but also for dedicated segments that explain aspects of racism. Non-white Americans deal so often that they are invisible to white Americans.
Oliver’s deep weekly dives on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” carry on what he has always done, only now are they more passionate, furious and frustrated and crystal clear in exposing topics such as police stories and postal votes, and the dangers of facial recognition – all issues that disproportionately affect minorities, also endangering the privacy and security of white Americans in a real way.
In recent “Full Frontal” episodes, Bee also takes on police brutality and expands his already impressive library of episodes concerning the suppression of voters. She spent last week’s episode with trans rights and specifically the dangers that black trans women face earlier this week.
Colbert, one of the senior statesmen in this group, quickly found a balance on the CBS “Late Show” between conversing with experts, politicians and animators about the total ineptitude and lack of heart of our government in the face of the pandemic and the integration of the support for equality race and against police brutality. Last Monday he chuckled with his CBS guest colleague James Corden; On Tuesday he slapped John Bolton for kicks.
Meanwhile on Netflix Hasan Minhaj, conductor of the “Patriot Act”, made a passionate appeal to Asian Americans to intensify and support blacks, in particular asking Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Muslim colleague, to file a criminal complaint against Derek Chauvin and the other three former Minneapolis police officers for roles that kill Floyd. It turns out that Ellison was watching and sat down for an interview with Minhaj who went live on YouTube on Friday.
If America were just contending for the rampant spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, all things would be more or less the same late at night. Every late night host on every large network went smoothly from live studio broadcasts to “social distance” editions. Beginning March 16, Noah cleverly renamed his television broadcasts from his New York apartment to reflect this new reality, around the same time Colbert started calling his episodes at home. “A Late Show “(vs.”The Late Show “). Bee comes to meet us from the safety of his vacation home in the woods, causing the brazen subtitle” Little Show in the Big Woods “, and Oliver from a small studio that jokingly defines a white void.
Even the hosts of the comedy school “Saturday Night Live”, including Seth Meyers, host of “Late Night”, who made a joke by recording his show in his attic, and the host of “Tonight Show”, Jimmy Fallon, whose colorful chic environment on his renovated New York farm, his attention devoted to fun and escapism, are making it work.
ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel recently left his summer break, but was more or less confused.
Each guest, in his own way, made the audience tune in. Fallon’s persistent attention to light actually played in his favor in the first few weeks of orders to stay home by keeping most of the population indoors, regardless of how a person might have felt before him, it’s hard not to be enchanted view of the boy who disappears from a slide with his daughters at the end of each episode of “Tonight Show”.
But only the hosts and the series that have roots in the breaking down of the news managed to make their roles feel late at night in particular and the popular culture of the moment necessarily felt. When Fallon touches on Black Lives Matter or race related issues, he does so in the family picture of dating celebrities, one of the most recent being Shaquille O’Neal. For the most part, “The Tonight Show” works as always, with Fallon chuckling with his celebrity friends or showing off his kids or dog.
It is useful to have a place to escape and to feel, in some way, that you are part of a friendly and personal conversation between two very famous people who are friends or simply very skilled in looking as if they knew and liked each other. These days, however, these escape routes are abundant. In a recent episode Fallon announced that he had joined TikTok and the word that came to my mind was redundant; if “The Tonight Show” works like a time-killer before sleep, the smaller versions wouldn’t seem to offer anything more nutritional than the full portion.
“Late Night with Seth Meyers”, meanwhile, once again demonstrates the guest’s acuteness in processing the news. If Fallon is a non-jokingly “playful” type of comedian, Meyers is the dad with an ironic sense of humor who is still invested in having punctual conversations with adult companions tired of being surrounded by young children.
Like Noah, Meyers launches arguments to his staff knowing that they can personalize frustrations, for example, micro-aggression or gaslighting in ways for which he is not equipped. At the end of a day full of troubles, some segments made the aggravating developments more attractive than those broken up by the writer “Late Night” Amber Ruffin or, in “The Daily Show”, Dulcé Sloan or Roy Wood Jr.
And they serve the purpose to which the average black person is not obliged, namely how systems work to oppress minorities and the poor or, in the case of Minhaj with his 11-minute alarm clock with Asian comrades, to establish connections between a the history of the group being oppressed by the struggle of black Americans for civil rights.
This work shouldn’t go into late night comedy. In a better world we would have an information medium that was equipped and able to overcome the barrage of lies and to explain in a concise and coherent way the source of various manipulations and the way in which they negatively affect all of us.
Furthermore, in a better world we would have an education system dedicated to the growth of a politically engaged public and the teaching of children’s critical thinking skills. We would have an audience watching the news to gather accurate information, no matter how bad the news of the day could be or if it matched their feelings.
Since it is up to these topical talk shows and hosts, audiences who want to understand systems, how they work and how they are aligned with segments of us can take heart in being accommodated by “The Daily Show “and the men and women continue his legacy.
This does not mean completely devaluing the old school “Tonight Show” model of changing channels and tuning the negative. Everyone needs a break and turn off the brain’s centers of concern before the bed is downright healthy.
But it is also to consider the guest’s explanations late at night on the sources of our discontent, on how and why of them, giving us some comforting clarity in all this fog or, in the case of Colbert’s sharp clashes with the officers , putting the madness of the powerful on display that everyone can see. It is absurd to think that a group of comedians has the task of illuminating the path for so many of us, helping us laugh at our anger and keeping us engaged. But these are absurd times – and who better to help us understand and face them?