2016 Late-Night Election Specials
With election season winding down, the candidates aren’t the only ones trying to reach voters. After more than a year and a half of breathlessly covering every up and down of this most unusual presidential race, late-night comedy shows are eyeing the finish line and solidifying their plans for what’s shaping up to be a momentous second week of November. The results will surely be historic — whoever wins — and the hosts will be there to commentate the hell out of it. From NBC to Netflix, viewers can expect wall-to-wall comedy coverage, with programs planning live episodes, postelection shows, and tons of surprises sprinkled in between. Here’s a rundown of all the election editions of our favorite shows hoping to win America’s late-night vote.
The 2016 SNL Election Special
NBC, Nov. 7, 10 p.m.
Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton have made SNL great again. So why not spend one more evening with them before heading to the polls? On Election Day eve, the long-running variety show will air a political special spotlighting the best clips from this election as well as ones from campaigns past. There’s plenty of unimpeachable material in the vault, from Larry David’s shout-happy Bernie Sanders to Darrell Hammond’s lip-biting Bill Clinton — not to mention Tina Fey’s definitive Sarah Palin impersonation. Read my lips: It’ll be a good time.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Showtime, Nov. 8, 11 p.m.
Since his regular Tuesday-night slot on CBS will be pre-empted by, you know, actual news, the Late Show host is taking his act to Showtime for an event called (deep breath) Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Sh*t? “It’s a place where you can get actual results, but in a way that no news organization can do,” says Late Show EP Chris Licht. “It’ll be live, up-to-the-minute comedy, with a little bit of everything — a very packed, energetic show with a live audience.” And despite the premium-cable setting, Licht says CBS fans will still be happy: “Other than full-frontal nudity, it really won’t be that much different.”
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
TBS, Nov. 7 and 9, 10:30 p.m.
Full Frontal is one of the newer additions to the late-night landscape, but it’s also hoping to be one of the most active during the big week. The show will air two episodes — one pregame special on Monday night, and then another Wednesday edition that’ll address whatever happens on Tuesday. But Samantha Bee’s team won’t be disappearing completely on Nov. 8 — they plan to be “very active digitally” throughout the day. So keep an eye on your Twitter feed for wisdom (and wisecracks) from this Nasty Woman.
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
Comedy Central, Nov. 8, 11 p.m.
Like Colbert, Trevor Noah & Co. will go live on election night with a special hour-long episode. “We’ll be on from 11 to 12, which ought to be a pretty newsy time to be on the air,” says executive producer Steve Bodow. “I expect the race won’t be called too early because the rigging takes a certain amount of time.” Adds fellow EP Jen Flanz, “We have to wait for Russia to hack in.” Other than the White House race, Bodow points out that there are plenty of contests they’ll be keeping an eye on: “Who’s going to grab control of the Senate? That’s going to be a big question that’ll be ongoing throughout the night.”
Late Night With Seth Meyers
NBC, Nov. 10, 12:35 a.m.
Seth Meyers has spent the past year commenting on the race with his smart, detailed “A Closer Look” segments, and this week won’t be any different. “During election week, we’ll certainly be focusing on everything in the way that we have been,” Meyers tells us. And though there won’t be any special programming on election night itself (the show will be preempted), Late Night‘s Wednesday episode will still have the type of spirited coverage that made October’s postdebate live shows a hit. “We’ve had a lot of fun on these big post-event shows.”
Netflix, Nov. 9, streaming
Chelsea Handler’s Netflix series will tackle the results from a slightly different angle on Wednesday. “We filmed two versions of what will happen: what the world would be like if Hillary wins, and what it would be like if Donald wins,” Handler says. They’ll lead with the one who won, but Handler will air both versions — that way, Americans can get a taste of what could’ve been. And that’s not all. “We also have a lot of surprises that we’ve already filmed,” Handler adds. “And I did a chat with little kids about what America means and what it means to be American. So it’s a whole episode dedicated to our country.” Chelsea Handler, a true patriot.
Real Time With Bill Maher
HBO, Nov. 11, 10 p.m.
Fittingly enough, Bill Maher’s weekly current-events roundtable will air its season finale on the Friday following the election. The content, Maher tells us, will depend on who wins. “I think we’re going to be in a celebratory mood, but we certainly will be ready for either,” he says. “I could easily see it be a funereal vibe. I will be nervous until the votes are counted and maybe after. Trump has been saying he’s not exactly going to go gently into the night.” Regardless of who prevails, Maher will be joined by a solid stable of guests, including Martin Short, political strategist David Axelrod, journalist Thomas Friedman, and former attorney general Eric Holder.
TBS, Nov. 9, 11 p.m.
Conan O’Brien’s crew doesn’t necessarily specialize in political commentary — they prefer the absurd over the topical — but they acknowledge that politics will be unavoidable this week. “We’ll have to just see what kind of ideas come out of the constant stream of insanity that we’re going to be presented with,” says head writer Matt O’Brien (no relation). “If we have a good political idea that Conan likes, we will certainly do it. But mainly we’ll try to plug into the nation’s sensibility that week. So I think a lot of the comedy we do during election week will be a sense of relief that this is finally over.” Then again, it’s never too early to start Decision 2020 coverage, right?