Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Late-night hosts respond with appropriate subtlety to President Shithole’s racist comments

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Screenshot: Comedy Central)

You can say this for Donald Trump: He sure is a vulgar, embarrassing old bigot. Oh, and he also continues to keep the late-night comedy hosts on their toes, as he seems inclined to leave his most awful actions and comments to the late afternoons, right before the nightly shows go to tape. (Perhaps he just gets cranky before bed/cheeseburger time.) Having to come up with trenchant comedic takes on—just spitballing here—a sitting president referring to majority non-white countries as “shitholes” while wishing aloud for more immigrants from homogeneously white Norway at the last minute doesn’t leave much room for subtlety. But, since that’s exactly what the Republican president of the United States did in a bipartisan immigration meeting around 5 p.m. on Thursday, perhaps subtlety wasn’t required.

On Late Night, Seth Meyers addressed the late-breaking national racist disgrace, noting during his “A Closer Look” segment that Trump made his comments “just before we started taping tonight.” Subtlest “shithole” joke: “To be fair, maybe he meant it as a compliment. After all, Trump does all his best tweets when he’s sitting on the shithole.”

Jimmy Kimmel called Thursday yet “another preposterous day” for the country, lambasting Trump for profanely and disgustedly rejecting a deal on protections for immigrants from countries like Haiti and various African nations. Introducing the whole “shithole” thing by incredulously prefacing, “This is an actual quote from the actual president of the United States,” Kimmel mused that it must just be a coincidence that Trump calls countries populated by people of color “shitholes” while praising Norwegian immigration, leading to his subtlest “shithole” joke: “Because if it wasn’t, it would mean we voted for a racist. Like a real one, and we’d have to get pitchforks and chase him out of the White House.”

On The Daily Show, anchor and native of, as he put it, “South Shithole” (Africa), Trevor Noah started out his broadcast by admitting, “Sometimes Trump just makes me tired,” before confiding to his audience, “Guys, I don’t know how to break it to you, but the president might just be crazy.” Subtlest “shithole” joke: Noting that Trump met with the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday, Noah suggested that Trump got excited when he found out that Norway doesn’t have any black people.

On The Opposition, Jordan Klepper’s ironically Trump-worshipping faux douchebag called Trump’s preference for Norwegian immigrants a simple function of them being “white... knuckled enthusiasts for making America great again.” But his subtlest “shithole” joke was congratulating Trump for having the courage to “speak truth to powerlessness.”


And, on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert referred to Trump’s recent feints toward stable leadership, joking, “It was a nice act, but like many men his age, he can only keep it up for so long.” Subtlest “shithole” joke: “Sir, they’re not shitholes. For one thing, Donald Trump is not their president.”

So, yeah, when your president, once again and in hearing of multiple witnesses, says something revealingly and unequivocally racist right before airtime, it doesn’t make for the most delicate late-night comedy. But then again, the sick joke that a bigoted, ignorant old loudmouth is the president isn’t particularly subtle.

Share This Story

About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.