The single breakout story from late night this week is clearly the Black Santa coverage over at the Daily Show. Often when a topic is as easily mocked as this one I worry that any material about it will feel instantly tired by 11 PM, but thankfully TDS specializes in deconstructing something already ridiculous by pinpointing specific absurd details that would otherwise get glossed over in monologue one-liners. It’s a formula specific to TDS, and it’s what makes the show the perennial go-to for stories like this. (That being said, Deon Cole’s reaction on Conan is also a must-watch)
It’s also what makes TDS the only show that deftly skewers more small-time stories, like this terrific piece Jason Jones did with a delightfully pretentious gerrymanderer. Single best moment in the video? The perfectly timed delivery of “Whoa, whoa: did that guy just call himself an artist?”
And while it was a great week for comedian guests on late night, with Stephen Colbert playing dress up on Letterman, Jim Gaffigan cracking up fellow-dad Craig Ferguson,and Patton Oswalt adding a needed bit of energy to the Pete Holmes Show, my favorite interviews of the week were all on Conan.
Mike Birbiglia’s sweet energy is a perfect match for both the show and Conan himself, and he’s by far one of the best storytellers in comedy. It’s not a completely objective choice for me though: Birbigs is a personal favorite, and my application to Northwestern was peppered with references to how much I wanted to be near Second City, so his Harvard revenge story hit a great personal note. Later in the week, TV legend Tim Conway made Conan crack up as easily as he did Korman and Burnett, and Kevin Hart stopped by with Ice Cube to test out the Lyft app in one of the best remotes of the new show.
Another stand out is Golden-Globe nominee Emma Thompson on Fallon, who outside of being consistently gracious and witty also threatened Sam Rockwell’s title as best dancer on late night. It’s probably because of all that clubbing.
It was a big week for Colbert, with his appearance on Letterman and his also incredible Black Santa coverage, but his best comedy may have come from this bit on the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, showcasing his talent for combining silly physical comedy and over-the-top commitment.
If you’re only going to watch one full episode, my pick is Thursday’s TDS. Find it here, even though half of it is linked above.