Stephen Colbert opened The Late Show Wednesday with a shaggy dog bombshell, telling the world's longest joke as he spoofed Rachel Maddow's drawn-out reveal of part of President Trump's 2005 tax returns.
Mimicking Maddow's patter and hand gestures, Colbert declared that he held in his hand a copy of a joke connected with Trump. After a prolonged prelude, he arrived at the set-up – "Why did the chicken cross the road?" – before digressing into an extended discussion on the domestication of chickens and their potential connections to Russian oligarchs.
Colbert then did the same with "roads," before noting: "But whether or not you're a Trump supporter, whether or not you've heard this joke before it ought to give you pause that after all of this build up, I still haven't gotten to the punchline. So without further ado – why did the chicken cross the road? – the answer right after this break."
Meanwhile, on The Tonight Show, Maddow discussed the Trump returns and how she and journalist David Cay Johnston obtained and verified the forms with tax experts and the White House. As they waited for verification, Maddow said they produced two completely separate shows in case the documents turned out to be fake. "One was, 'We've got his tax returns,' and one was, 'Nothing to see here,'" Maddow said. "We had different guests booked, a whole different show completely lined up and ready to go in case it falls through."