Capping off a surreal day of plunging markets and mass cancellations in the wake of the coronavirus, former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made his debut as the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live in front of a practically empty studio audience.
Buttigieg was announced as the nights’ guest host on Monday (Kimmel was hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), but Thursday all late-night shows announced that they would continue to tape sans in-person audience as a coronavirus-related precaution. Buttigieg, to his credit, made the most out of an incredibly bizarre situation, performing in front of a skeleton crowd of Kimmel staffers, friends and his husband, Chasten. A running joke during his monologue? Punctuating punchlines with previously recorded footage of roaring crowds, prompting the joke: “None of those people are here, but when you don’t have a real audience you have to fake one — just like Trump’s inauguration.”
Elsewhere in the monologue, Buttigieg decked out the Kimmel crew in all his leftover “Pete for President” gear, joked about his presidential run and, in an out-of-studio segment, tried to find a new job now that his campaign’s over and he’s technically out of work.
While interviewing for a job at a nearby Wetzel’s Pretzels, however, Buttigieg failed to impress the manager as he boasted about his multiple degrees but was unable to name any of the dipping sauces. Even worse, when asked about how he’d handle the company’s one-sample-per-customer rule, his response was straight from the stump: “America was founded on an ideal, and freedom isn’t free but pretzel samples should be!”