Late Night Hosts Are Also Working From Home — With Varying Results Late-night comedy talk shows have been forced to work without audiences. Hosts like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel are doing shows from home — some more successfully than others.
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Late Night Hosts Are Also Working From Home — With Varying Results

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Late Night Hosts Are Also Working From Home — With Varying Results

Late Night Hosts Are Also Working From Home — With Varying Results

Late Night Hosts Are Also Working From Home — With Varying Results

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/831174892/831372788" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Late-night comedy talk shows have been forced to work without audiences. Hosts like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel are doing shows from home — some more successfully than others.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

From shows taped in a field to episodes filmed in a hallway, TV's late-night talk show hosts have found a wide variety of ways to keep broadcasting while in social isolation. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans has the scoop on who's succeeding and who is stumbling in the effort to keep America laughing in late-night.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: When you're used to a theater full of fans chanting your name every night, it's tough to adapt to cracking jokes in your home in front of a few cameras and your family. "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert greeted viewers last night with this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")

STEPHEN COLBERT: How are you guys doing tonight? I can't hear you because I'm alone - so alone.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It's a late show with Stephen Colbert.

DEGGANS: Like many late-night hosts who've returned to TV, including Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon, Colbert struggled at first with where to film, what to wear and how to be funny without the energy of an audience's reaction.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")

COLBERT: Today, Senator Bernie Sanders announced he was dropping out of the 2020 Democratic race. I guess during a pandemic, crazy ideas like "Medicare for All" just don't resonate.

DEGGANS: Yeah. In fact, hosts who don't interact with the audience so much seem to do better in this new environment, like "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver. He's filming his HBO show from home after people at the show's studio and his office building had confirmed cases of coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT")

JOHN OLIVER: Handling a crisis well is not inherently political. I never really liked Andrew Cuomo before this, but I will admit he's doing admirably well. And I can't wait to get to the other side of this when I go back to being irritated by him again.

DEGGANS: ABC's Jimmy Kimmel scores by getting his kids involved in his opening theme.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: (Singing) Bada ba (ph), bada ba, bada ba. Bada ba, bada ba, bada ba.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

DEGGANS: Then he climbs through a window in his house to prove the background wasn't a special effect.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!")

JIMMY KIMMEL: Why would I set up a green screen in my house to make it look like I'm in my house?

DEGGANS: "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah has had some great interviews from his couch on his "Daily Social Distancing Show." But the program really drew attention with a video called "Heroes Of The Pandumbic," featuring pundits who initially downplayed the risk from coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.

PETE HEGSETH: This is one of those cases where the more I learn about coronavirus, the less concerned I am.

DEGGANS: Now, Ellen DeGeneres isn't a late-night host, but this week, she returned to her daytime talk show and immediately landed in hot water on social media with this joke.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

ELLEN DEGENERES: This is like being in jail, is what it is. It's mostly because I've been wearing the same clothes for 10 days, and everyone in here is gay.

DEGGANS: Yeah, a celebrity comparing isolation in a spacious home to prison when there's serious fear of an outbreak in actual jails - maybe not the best move. But my favorite moment comes from a new online show by actor John Krasinski. He created a program on YouTube called "Some Good News," and he earned nearly 9 million page views with an episode featuring the original cast of "Hamilton," including creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, serenading a young fan via web video.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) In New York, you can be a new man. In New York, New York...

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: (Singing) Just you wait.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) Alexander Hamilton...

DEGGANS: Watching all this, it's heartening to see talented producers and performers using their creativity to bring audiences together during a calamity that's led to so many of us being kept apart.

I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) In New York, you can be a new man.

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