On Wednesday, most of the nation’s late-night hosts held their first shows since the election of Donald Trump, with each offering a slightly different approach—from joking to somber—to the shift from Trump the candidate to Trump the president-elect.
Jimmy Kimmel attempted to take viewers through the stages of grief, from denial (“No, the host of the Celebrity Apprentice is not our president”) and bargaining (“Maybe he’ll only build the wall waist-high, to keep short people out”) to acceptance (“No matter how you feel about it, Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America, so thank God we legalized marijuana yesterday.”)
Samantha Bee was perhaps the most fiery, placing the blame for Trump’s election squarely on white people.
“The Caucasian nation showed up in droves to vote for Trump,” Bee said. “So I don’t want to hear a goddamn word about black voter turnout. How many times do we expect black people to build our country for us?”
She also compared the election of Trump to the installation of an above-ground pool, saying, “Even if we’re lucky and it doesn’t seep into our foundation, the neighbors will never look at us the same way again.”
Jimmy Fallon mostly skipped the sermonizing, preferring to stick to typical monologue jokes. (That was generally his way throughout the campaign, as well—the host drew criticism for his “softball” interview of the now-president-elect back in September.)
‘‘Republicans hope he’ll keep his promise to build the wall,” Fallon said. “And Democrats hope he’ll keep his promise not to accept the election results.’’
Stephen Colbert, whose Tuesday night live election special on Showtime turned into a somber affair, did his best to keep things light, but could not hide his obvious disappointment.
“This is what it feels like when America’s made great again,” Colbert said. “I was really hoping it would feel better, because this sucks.’’
Newton native Conan O’Brien struck an optimistic tone. He said that, as a student of history, he knew that we’d had more than 200 years of free — albeit contentious — elections, something many nations cannot say.
“I’ve traveled to a bunch of countries — Cuba, Armenia, the Middle East — where the people would give anything, anything, to have our system,” O’Brien said. “In America, we get to pick who’s going to ruin our country.”
James Corden spoke about moving to the U.S. from England two years ago, and how everything that drew him here won’t change overnight.
‘‘This country isn’t about one election result,” Corden said. “This country is about the people who live here. It’s you. It’s how you treat one another, It’s the tone you set that will define who we are.”
And Seth Meyers, who made clear his disdain for Trump’s campaign many times during the campaign season, choked up while talking about how disappointing the result was for his mother, who is named Hillary. He also spoke philosophically about whichever woman eventually becomes our first female president.
“The fact is, we don’t know who you are, but I imagine this moment today will be a defining one for you, one that will make you work harder and strive further,” Meyers said. “And whoever you are, I hope I live to see your inauguration. And I hope my mom does, too.”