After taking the week off around the July Fourth holiday, television’s late-night hosts sadly had to return from their hiatuses this week with no major news to use as fodder for jokes.
LOL, jk, we have fun.
Seemingly every day of the Trump administration’s tenure has been packed with “game changing” pieces of information, but this Sunday the New York Times broke the news that Donald Trump Jr. (plus bonus Jared Kushner and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort) had taken a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign for the purpose of getting “damaging” information on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. has since denied that he knew who would be at the meeting, and that the lawyer quickly changed the subject to Russian adoption anyway, so who cares?
Of course, as of this morning, the story has taken on a whole new life, with both Trump Jr. and the New York Times publishing the actual emails in which the president’s son expressed delight at the prospect of getting documents that would “incriminate” Clinton, so maybe the comedians’ stances on whether it’s a “smoking gun” will have changed by Tuesday night’s round of shows.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves — that’s tonight’s late-night fodder. Until then, here are three of the standout moments from Monday night’s comedic takes on the story as it was unfolding.
Stephen Colbert explains the controversy with a quick James Bond play
Stephen Colbert’s Late Show came roaring back to life with the host’s giddy summarization of the latest in Trump scandals.
“There is no evidence of collusion or even the desire to collude with the Russians by anyone in the Trump campaign — is something that was true 48 hours ago,” Colbert began, shaking his head in amazement. “Everything with this family that you think is turns out to be.”
And while he conceded that the report still wasn’t quite “a smoking gun,” Colbert went on that this new revelation is at least “a gun, meeting with a Russian bullet about their mutual desire to smoke.”
From there, he staged a one-man play about the meeting with the Russian lawyer (a.k.a. “Corruption Galore”), complete with jazzy James Bond sound effects, waggling eyebrows, and not-so-vague astonishment at Trump Jr.’s sheer audacity.
Jimmy Kimmel asks Kellyanne “The Kraken” Conway for her take
Kimmel was similarly bewildered, saying in his monologue that Trump Jr.’s flimsy defense of why he took the meeting is like someone saying they tried to rob a bank, but they forgot it was closed on Sundays. He then invited “Kellyanne Conway” — or more accurately, a horrifying puppet wearing a Kellyanne-ish face — to come on the show to try to defend Trump Jr.’s logic.
“Okay, first of all, define ‘meeting,’” said the puppet. When Kimmel stammered, she pressed further, asking if he eats meat, and if so, “is that a meeting?!”
Anyway, the puppet continued, “we should be focusing on Hillary Clinton and the shemails she’s been hiding.”
As far as takes go, this one is pretty tepid. But Kimmel still gets points from me for the puppet’s purposely shoddy production value, the likes of which I have not seen since fast-forwarding through commercials for Crank Yankers.
Trevor Noah can’t believe how “honestly stupid” the whole thing is
Over on The Daily Show, Trevor Noah almost couldn’t believe what he was reading — and not just about the meeting, but from Trump Jr.’s own statement.
“Baby, baby, baby, you don’t understand!” Noah exclaimed in his best dirtbag voice. “I only met with that other woman because I thought she wanted to fuck! Turns out she just wanted me to meet Jesus, so how you gon’ go ahead and call me a cheater, girl? Come on!”
What it comes down to, Noah marveled, is that “Donald Trump Jr.’s defense is that he tried to collude, but instead he got Russian catfished.”
And more than anything, Noah continued, the whole thing reeks not just of malice but of total incompetence. “Look, man, this is honestly stupid,” Noah said. “It is incompetent, and it is dumb.” He then pointed out that this week’s headlines could be about the US’s role in the Syrian ceasefire or getting ISIS run out of Mosul, but instead it’s all Russian scandals all over again.
“Once again,” Noah said, “we’re reminded that in a world filled with Trump enemies, their worst enemy is themselves.”