Stephen Colbert made the most of having an audience-free studio last night, his jokes amusingly floating on the titters of a few dozen staffers, and he wasn’t the only one. To help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, a number of late night shows are either banning audiences or, like Seth Meyers, finding alternate ways to reach them. Trevor Noah, meanwhile, honored his absent audience with a song.
And Jimmy Kimmel, well, he spent his evening hosting Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? so shadow Republican and billionaire boot-kisser Pete Buttigieg could comfort a terrified nation with jokes about pretzels delivered to a near-empty studio filled only with his sycophants. We reported earlier this week that Buttigieg, the 38-year old former Indiana mayor and presidential candidate, would serve as a guest host on the program, a deeply stupid and unnecessary turn of events that grew even more surreal once we found out we’re in the middle of an honest-to-god pandemic. As the response to this tweet from comedian Joel Kim Booster makes clear, simply stringing these words together is enough to demonstrate their brain-melting absurdity.
Buttigieg, who could be doing literally anything else, does his best Obama voice while delivering cringy jokes about Trump, the Iowa caucus app, and Sarah Palin’s cursed appearance on The Masked Singer. “That’s gonna be me in three months, isn’t it?” he asks, turning all of us into this GIF. He also, being a guy who thought he was capable of leading a completely fucked country, delivers some of the bold, galvanizing messaging that defined his campaign: “The only way we’re going to get through this crisis is with unity,” he declares. “So who’s with me?” Whoa. Unity? Slow down, chief. “This virus is no match for the American people,” he adds, another statement that sounds nice and means absolutely nothing.
Later, he interviews for a job at Wetzel’s Pretzels—it’s funny because guys like Pete don’t work at Wetzel’s Pretzels—where he declares that “freedom isn’t free but pretzel samples should be.” Cool! Too bad he doesn’t feel the same about healthcare.
The only highlight is Sir Patrick Stewart implying he’s a socialist during the pair’s sit-down interview, a comment that spawns nothing but some stilted laughter from the “host.”
The two also play a game of Star Trek trivia with host LeVar Burton. Ever been curious if Mayor Pete thinks Geordi La Forge wears boxers or briefs? Well, now’s your chance to find out. Great content, everybody.
The depressing stunt was summarized in a single line of this excellent Variety op-ed: “Who, right now, cares about this?” asks writer Daniel D’Addario. “At a moment of unique tension, here was someone who’d spent many months insisting he could lead us trying, instead, to stay in the national consciousness as a comic persona.”
We look forward to Pete’s upcoming cameo on This Is Us.
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