As has been made clear, a lot can change in a day: yesterday, a majority of daytime and late night TV programs said they would take a page from the NBA and start recording their shows without audiences. And just as the NBA ended up suspending its season, so too will many late night programs go dark in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
NBC and CBS announced late Thursday that The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Late Night With Seth Meyers are all suspending production starting next week. (Both Fallon & Meyers had already planned to go on hiatus the week of March 23rd.) The earliest the shows would air new episodes would be March 30th, but there is no set date for their return yet. The Times adds that Saturday Night Live, which is on hiatus until March 28th with host John Krasinski and musical guest Dua Lipa, could be in doubt as well.
Colbert and Fallon both aired episodes last night that were done without any audiences present. Colbert's featured guest was CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who talked with Colbert for multiple segments about coronavirus and how Trump has "failed" Americans. But the best part of the show was seeing Colbert messing around amidst uncomfortable circumstances: running through the empty room, drinking scotch, and screwing around with his crew on camera. It was a little unsettling and a lot of silly, and both reflected the nation's mood and helped lighten it, if only for a few minutes.
Watch the Gupta segments below:
Fallon's guests were Dr. Mehmet Oz and Mandy Moore, but his monologue before a mostly empty soundstage captured the awkwardness of the moment:
Although Late Night didn't air a new episode, Meyers did record a new "A Closer Look" segment earlier in the day focused on Trump's address to the nation about coronavirus, which he put online.
As of now, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is still planning to air new episodes next week without a studio audience. Noah paid musical tribute to the audience members he would miss:
Like The Daily Show, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS's The Late Late Show with James Corden and The Talk are all also planning to keep recording new episodes without live audiences. Kimmel was off last night, but former presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg filled in for him for a particularly strange episode of late night television. He made jokes about Trump's inauguration, Sarah Palin on The Masked Singer (“That’s going to be me in three months, isn’t it?”), and lots about the presidential race. “As you know, I dropped out of the presidential race last week, which was unfortunate,” he said. “But what can I say? Some candidates know when it’s time to get out of the race, and some candidates are Tulsi Gabbard.”
And he said of people skeptical whether he could host a late night show, “They’re like, ‘You’re too inexperienced, you’ll never be a good late-night host,’” he said. “Well, a lot of people said I’d never get elected president—and I showed them!”