Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Late-night scorecard: "Holy shit, the president's an actual Russian agent" edition

Illustration for article titled Late-night scorecard: "Holy shit, the president's an actual Russian agent" edition
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Hey, remember how everyone on the internet with an eagle in their Twitter avatar made fun of you for suggesting that Donald Trump was acting like a Russian sleeper agent? Yeah, those particular treasonous goalposts were irrevocably moved this weekend, as the—let’s still call him “president,” for tradition’s sake—met with his Russian counterpart after he trashed our European allies, bumbled in front of Queen Elizabeth like she was the prime minister of Montenegro, and then held a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin so ramblingly servile that even Fox News pundit Neil Cavuto called it “disgusting.” (Cavuto also tried the old “jet lag makes you betray your country” excuse, however.)


The president of the United States’ suspicious unwillingness to side with, um, the United States over Russia even though his own intelligence community is in agreement that Russia attacked our democratic process was met with a little, oh, let’s call it incredulity. So how did America’s brave late-night comedy hosts score what several of them referred to as Trump’s “annual performance review”? Let’s go to the scorecard:

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Kicking off with Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote about America never being destroyed from the outside but from within (which Colbert referred to as one of Lincoln’s most inspirational tweets), the host and longtime beleaguered Trump-basher did his usual comedic dissection of this latest, extra-treason-y escapade.

Pop culture comparison: The Siberian Candidate.

Regrettable “Putin and Trump are gay for each other” homophobic cheap shot?: None. Colbert’s learned that lesson, thankfully.

Parallel thinking/hacky joke: Those 12 Russian agents indicted by Robert Mueller for hacking our elections were referred to as nesting inside each other. Because Russian nesting dolls exist, and those agents are, indeed, Russian.

Best line: Responding to Trump’s repeated press conference references to the location of the hacked DNC server (think Captain Queeg and the strawberries here), Colbert, flashing a side-by-side picture of Trump and Putin said, “We know where the server is. He’s standing right next to the master.”


Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Sandwiched around Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video rebuttal to Trump’s performance and a skit about the Trump’s now-exonerated “400-pound guy on a bed” hacker, Kimmel gleefully embraced the opportunity to pile on.


Pop culture comparison: Kimmel said no American’s been owned so thoroughly by a Russian since Rocky IV.

Regrettable “Putin and Trump are gay for each other” homophobic cheap shot?: Kimmel’s occasionally ridden his outrage over Trump’s actions to impressive comedic heights, but saying Trump wanted a private meeting with Putin because “he didn’t want his advisers to see him naked” was lazy bro-comedy at its worst.


Parallel thinking/hacky joke: Maybe those nesting dolls are actually really funny and we’re just missing it?

Best line: “If you were wondering whether or not Vladimir Putin has an incriminating video of Donald Trump, we now know, beyond a treasonable doubt, that he does.”


The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

“Nervous when meeting your boss” joke, Stormy Daniels sex joke, magic beans joke, then Jimmy does a little dance and we’re out.


Late Night With Seth Meyers

In his “A Closer Look” segment, Meyers, calling Trump’s presser “one of the most surreal performances ever,” accused the hero-worshipping Trump (who courageously called Putin “strong and powerful” right to his face!) of gushing like a kid meeting Mickey Mouse. (Putin’s gift of a soccer ball did nothing to dispel the image.)


Pop culture comparison: Meyers suggested Trump was one day away from straight up Single White Female-ing Putin. (Meyers did call Trump’s praise of Putin “thirsty,” but the joke was about Trump wanting to be a murderous dictator, not be with one.)

Best line: About Trump’s pushing of the “insane conspiracy theory” about those servers, Meyers compared him to “your uncle trying to get your waiter’s attention at a restaurant.”


The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

Noah, referring to the ammo the Mueller indictments gave Trump going into the Helsinki summit, deadpanned, “It was time for Trump to put his foot down. And he did—right on America’s dick.”


Pop culture reference: Noah can’t resist a Cardi B impression, here shoehorned into a joke about Mueller’s Friday indictments sending the singer into labor. He also role-played Trump as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Watson, rebutting all Sherlock Holmes’ meticulously gathered evidence by claiming, “Yeah, but he says he didn’t do it.”

Best, hardest to laugh off line: “You have to ask this question: If Trump was some sort of Russian Manchurian Candidate, what would he have just done differently?”


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