David Letterman returned to the air Monday night with his first new show since Nov. 25, and he cautiously took a few swings at Tiger Woods. “Boy, it looks like that Tiger Woods is havin’ some trouble, huh?” he opened. After 24 seconds of silence (unless you count the audience’s laughter), he spoke again: “You know what, I was thinkin’ if this thing happened three months ago, I’d have material for a year.“
That begs the question: Will Letterman’s personal experience dealing with “transgressions” publicly ultimately help or hurt his monologue as Tiger Woods continues to dominate the news? Last night, I’d say it helped. After joking about the media firestorm surrounding Woods being the largest blaze since his own gay kiss with Adam Lambert, Letterman cracked: “President Obama is sending troops to Afghanistan. Why hell, he oughta be sending ’em to Tiger Woods’ house…. I wish he would stop callin’ me for advice.” He said Woods endorsements may be in jeopardy: He may no longer be on a box of Wheaties. “And I was thinkin’, Well, my god, if he’s actually this active…I mean, maybe he deserves to be on a Wheaties box…. Yeah, not much else I can say.” More laughter. But there was more to say: Dave’s Top 10 list was the Top 10 Ways Tiger Woods Can Improve His Image: “Maybe I’ll learn a little something here myself.” Should the subject make you uncomfortable, Letterman had good guy Tom Hanks react to each punch line (1. Blame Letterman. Hanks: “Ouch.”)
After the jump, we take a look at how the other late night hosts handled Woods last night. Were Letterman’s jokes the best?
The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon: Jimmy opened his monologue whispering like an on-air golf analyst. “Thank you very much, and welcome back to the Tiger Woods Scandal Invitational. Tiger’s already up to the seventh hole.” Not bad, Fallon. But his follow-ups were not nearly as funny: He questioned how passionate these affairs are if after Tiger finishes in bed the mistresses just politely clap, and said Tiger doesn’t just jump into bed with women, he first crouches down to examine the terrain.
The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien: Conan brought back his Tiger Woods Joke Caddy, and Andy Richter did the commentary as Conan was handed his punch lines: “Conan’s got his joke. He’s hitting into a strong headwind of indifference. Let’s see how he does.” They were a little obvious, but Conan knew it: Nine women have now claimed to have an affair with Tiger — for the first time ever, he’s four over par. The identity of the mistress who says she’s upset that Tiger had other mistresses? The dumb one. Tiger’s nickname for the British sportscaster who’s allegedly among his mistresses: The British Open.
The Jay Leno Show: I worried about Jay when he opened his monologue talking about Christmas shopping, but he finally got to Tiger. Apparently, there’s a study reported in the International Handbook of Anger that says the angriest Americans are young people under the age of 30, usually women at home with small children, “especially if they’re married to the world’s greatest golfer.” He noted President Obama’s bad luck, being on the cover of the latest issue of Golf Digest with Tiger, and that Michelle will probably no longer let him hang out with Woods. He said reports that Oprah Winfrey has called Tiger to offer him advice and a chance to discuss the situation on her show were nice, but it should have been Jerry Springer phoning. He made a Tiger and Kate Plus 8 joke (groan), then brought out “Tiger’s Tote Board” and raised the number of women linked to him to nine (bigger groan). “NBA players are getting their ass kicked by a golfer!” he exclaimed, before ending by saying how nervous pro athletes are now. Sammy Sosa is white as a ghost! (Turn the channel.)
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Like Leno, Craig opened with a non-Tiger joke, but unlike Leno, his killed: After making fun of Harry Potter for years, he finally saw the first film with his son and loved it. Now, he’s having a “douche dilemma”: “Maybe everything I’m saying is sucky [Twilight, Jonas Brothers] isn’t sucky at all. Maybe I’m the one that sucks.” Finally, he got around to Woods. It seems Virgin Galactic has unveiled its first spaceship for tourists targeting very rich people who want to leave the planet. The first name? Tiger Woods. He then compared the way women are coming forward to claim affairs with the golfer to Spartacus. “I am Tiger’s mistress.” “No I AM Tiger’s mistress.” When a woman in his audience shouted something, he joked that they were coming forward everywhere.
Lopez Tonight: George Lopez’s open was all Tiger. Unfortunately, he waited too long to get to the material that only he could get away with: He said the situation will get worse, because so far, it’s only been white women who’ve come forward. He joked that the first Latina held a press conference: “She don’t want money, she just wants a ride to the bus.” He then said black women are upset with Tiger because he didn’t marry a black woman. “The only way Tiger can improve his standing in the black community is to get in a high-speed chase in a white Bronco.” He also skipped around the stage pretending he was Chris Brown hearing about Tiger Woods. The momentary laughs soon ended when he brought on Kato Kaelin to welcome the mistresses to their 15 minutes of fame. (He semi-recovered with guest Kathy Griffin, who, of course, is loving Woods’ predicament. “I am all Tiger all of the time…. I am so obsessed with the Swedish model wife who sounds like an IKEA end table…I don’t know what her name is, and I don’t care…I want to go gay for her because she is gonna be rolling in it.”)