The year late night picked a side

The year late night picked a side
The year late night picked a side

Since Donald Trump joined the presidential race, late night hosts have pulled out the stops to take him on.

Late night hosts from Johnny Carson on have always gone after political figures, and the hosts this year haven't given Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton a free pass, but 2016 is different in that hosts have gone so far in making fun of Trump that they've actually changed up the repertoire of late night TV.

In part they're doing this because they feel Trump is dangerous -- but of course they're also doing it because he's a really easy target.

Here's how late night TV has taken on Trump:


Before 2016, the best place to find late night take downs was "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" with Stewart satirizing and sometimes even reporting the news with his distinct point of view. Now, Stewart's disciples -- and, separately, Seth Meyers -- have taken up the former host's mantle and format for use against one of his favorite targets.

John Oliver has used long-form segments on his HBO show "Last Week Tonight" to take on Trump, most notoriously in one segment during which he filed paperwork to trademark the name "Drumpf," the Trump family's ancestral name.

Samantha Bee has used editorials on her TBS show "Full Frontal" to scorch Trump, including a blistering piece on the candidate's hot mic tape.

"Take a Tic Tac and grab 'em by the p***y is the closest thing to a plan Donald Trump has described this entire election," she said.

Stephen Colbert is used to having a sharp point of view thanks to his years on "The Colbert Report," but he switched up his Trump takes a bit on CBS' "The Late Show" by using a chalkboard.

He used one in June to "explain" Trump's reaction to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Once he was done connecting all of Trump's reactions Colbert's diagram resembled a giant swastika.

He did it again earlier this week, tying together all of the so-called conspiracies against Trump in a way that ended up creating the look of a, well, something that's censored on network TV.

The man who took over for Stewart on "The Daily Show," Trevor Noah, has of course continued the editorial style pioneered by his predecessor.

Noah, who is from South Africa, compared Trump to brutal African leaders like Idi Amin and Muammar Gaddafi last year.

"For me, as an African, there's something familiar about Trump that makes me feel like home," Noah said last year. "What I'm trying to say is Donald Trump is presidential. He's just running on the wrong continent."

Seth Meyers, who famously mocked Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, has used his segment "Closer Look" throughout the election to call out Trump.

He did so most notably regarding Trump's comments on birtherism last month, when Trump finally acknowledged that President Obama was born in United States, reversing his previous position on the subject.

" 'Obama was born in the United States, period'? F*** you, exclamation point!" Meyers said. "You don't get to peddle racist rhetoric for five years and decide when it's over. We decide when it's over. And it's certainly not over after a 30-second statement in the middle of a hotel commercial."


Impersonations have always had a place in late night thanks to "Saturday Night Live," but other late shows aren't really known for their impressions.

This year that changed with NBC's "Tonight Show" host, Jimmy Fallon, transforming into Trump for multiple sketches and seemingly every host doing their best Trump voice during bits.

Others have used impressions to not just tease Trump, but those in the campaign as well.

"The Late Show" made headlines in July by opening an episode with Laura Benanti playing Trump's wife, Melania, following the controversy over her speech at the Republican Convention, parts of which were apparently plagiarized.

"My fellow Americans, this is truly the best of times, it is the worst of times," Benanti as Melania said. "I did not plagiarize my speech last night. I would never do such a thing. I would not, could not with a goat. I would not, could not on a boat."

Colbert brought Benanti's Melania back on Tuesday night for an "interview" about Trump's "locker room talk."

Colbert's late night counterpart, James Corden, went the other way and used Denis Leary as Bill Clinton to Corden's Hillary Clinton to have Leary sing a riff on Leary's song "A**hole" called "(Trump's an) A**hole."

Taking on Trump himself

Presidential candidates have long gone on late night to introduce themselves to new viewers and voters, and that's been no different this year -- but Trump's appearances have led to criticism of and even regret on the part of the hosts.

Fallon received harsh criticism, including from Bee, for not going after Trump on his show last month and instead having a light-hearted interview where he tussled Trump's hair.

Others like ABC's Jimmy Kimmel pushed Trump on issues like his proposed Muslim ban while also still lampooning the candidate.

Colbert, who had Trump on last year, actually showed remorse afterward for not having been harder on Trump.

"I tried being gracious and pointed at the same time, and got almost nothing out of him," Colbert told the New York Times last month. "It was actually boring, because he wouldn't even look me in the eye. Being nice to a guy who isn't nice to other people, it doesn't serve you that much."


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