Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon took on the unenviable task of responding live to the chaotic first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on their respective late-night shows Tuesday, September 29th.
Colbert opened his monologue with a melodramatic distillation of the night’s mania, dropping in a little bit of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl for good measure: “Tonight saw the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked, dragging themselves through the streets at dawn, looking for the mute button!” Colbert cracked.
The Late Show host proceeded to run through the debate’s scattered highlights and copious low-lights, culminating with Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists. Busting out his Trump impression, Colbert cracked: “I don’t support white supremacists, I just command them! Like a dog, that’s why I’ve got this shiny dog whistle. Proud Boys, Proud Boys, stand back. Sit. Who’s a Proud Boy?”
Over on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel joked about Trump’s pre-debate attempts to “rattle” Biden by demanding drug tests and ear inspections for secret transmitters. To that end, Kimmel also noted the key challenge facing Biden during the face-off: How do you debate a pathological liar?
“It’s like debating a parrot,” Kimmel cracked. “You can make whatever points you want, but you know the parrots just going to say the same four things it knows and then maybe take a dump on the New York Times.”
Over on The Tonight Show, Fallon joked that the ad-free debate made history because “it was the first time Americans ever watched something on TV and wished there were commercials.” He also threw out a few punchlines about debate moderator Chris Wallace, cracking he must’ve felt like “a kindergarten teacher running a class on Zoom,” and, “After the debate was over, Wallace said he wants to moderate something a little more civil, like a Real Housewives reunion or a back alley knife fight.”