Seth Meyers has been a pointed voice in late-night comedy ever since the presidential primaries started in earnest about 18 months ago (all the way back in 2015, if you can remember such a time). He took a particularly ruthless approach to covering Donald Trump, who’s since gone from being roundly mocked for announcing his candidacy by gliding down an escalator in June 2015 to becoming the president-elect.
It’s no surprise, then, that Meyers’s first monologue after the election was one of his most memorable.
Over the course of the nine-minute segment, Meyers dug into his feelings about the result, his perpetual confusion with all things Trump, the virulent racism that defined the president-elect’s campaign, and what it means that Hillary Clinton lost. In particular, he emphasized that when it comes to predicting wins and losses, he’s “been wrong about [Trump] at every turn.”
Though maybe, Meyers said grimly, that means Trump will be “a great fucking president.”
In fact, Meyers said midway through the monologue that he almost hopes Trump will turn out to be nothing like the man who spent his campaign promising to build a wall on the US–Mexico border and threatening to ban Muslims from entering the US. “He has, at any given point, held every position on every issue,” Meyers marveled. “He’s been pro-life, pro-choice, for the Iraq War, against the Iraq War … pretty much his only consistent position has been anti-Rosie O’Donnell. So I’m hopeful that he’s not actually a racist.”
And, Meyers added, he hopes that Trump ultimately does right by the people who voted for him. “I sincerely hope,” he said to those voters directly, “that if you’ve felt forgotten, he won’t forget you now.”
Still, Meyers acknowledged that even if Trump actually fulfills the promises he made to his supporters, it won’t make the millions of people who voted against him feel much better. “As a white man,” Meyers said, “I know that any emotions I’m feeling are likely a fraction of those being felt by the LGBTQ community, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, and any number of the immigrant communities so vital to our country.”
“Hopefully,” Meyers continued, “the Trump administration and Trump supporters will be compassionate to them, because they need your compassion.”
The breadth of topics he tackled in under 10 minutes was impressive, and Meyers’s delivery was generally thoughtful and measured rather than overly emotional. But his tone changed when he expanded on what Clinton’s loss means for young girls all over the country, as well as their parents and his own mother, who’d really hoped to see Clinton win.
“She won’t be [president],” Meyers said, his voice cracking. “But that does mean that someone’s daughter is out there right now who will have that title … we don’t know who you are, but I imagine that this moment will be a defining one for you. One that will make you work harder, and strive farther. And I hope I live to see your inauguration.”
It was a sprawling, heartfelt monologue, capturing many of the feelings and reactions Americans have expressed in the immediate shockwaves of this election. And Meyers delivered the hell out of it. But that moment when he couldn’t gloss over his emotion with a joke was the standout — and one that many crushed Clinton supporters may sympathize with today.