This week’s best in late-night: That epic Hamilton reunion, a socially distanced soap opera, and more
Heather Gardner, host of EW's Last Night's Late Night, shares her favorite moments from the past week and the unexpected joys of these 'safer at home' shows.
First of all: On behalf of the Last Night’s Late Night team, I want to say “thank you” for tuning into our new show on Quibi! It has been such a joy, and welcome distraction from the real world, to produce this show for you every weekday.
But, there’s always more to talk about when it comes to these late-night shows, especially in these unprecedented days while the hosts are filming remotely from their respective homes.
I’ll be honest, when we got the directive to cover the in-home content that’s now late night’s new normal, I was a bit skeptical. How funny would a comedy show be without an audience? How entertaining would an interview be over a Zoom video call? Would I be bothered by the sparse production value? Though I had high hopes, my expectations were low watching those first few episodes.
I don’t admit this often (just ask my husband): I was wrong.
This week, especially, has solidified a deeper appreciation for the work these hosts and their teams do on a daily basis. The creativity and inventiveness of these “safer at home” shows have been a joy to experience at a time when we can all certainly use an extra bit of levity.
This week, Fallon invited fellow Saturday Night Live alums Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig for a hilarious soap opera spoof, fittingly titled “The Longest Days of Our Lives.” The over-the-top scene, which took place over Zoom, featured terrible wigs, ill-timed costume changes, and virtual slapping. It was a riot! The technical challenges of performing an improv scene remotely added to the silliness of the storyline, as did the actors’ inability to keep a straight face. The entire time watching, I thought, “this is an absolute gem.” Truthfully, I hadn’t laughed so hard in weeks.
Tonight’s creativity also shone bright this week in a much more polished segment that featured Justin Timberlake. The two friends have appeared in more than a few musical sketches together including a pitch-perfect rendition of Toto’s “Africa,” and one of my personal favorites, “The History of Rap.” If JT is Fallon’s guest, there’s a good chance we’ll get a song-and-dance number.
Thankfully, the tradition continued even during lockdown when the pair put together a “Quarantine Remix,” featuring their musical chops along with household items. Major props goes to The Tonight Show’s editing staff for seamlessly creating a catchy music video with footage shot in different parts of the country. And I especially enjoyed the Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake inception mug cameo.
Another fun and unexpected development for late night television during the pandemic is the rise of additional programming — both John Krasinski and Miley Cyrus have thrown their hats into the talk show ring.
During an interview with Fallon last week, Cyrus told the late night host she was hoping to take his hosting job with her Instagram Live series, Bright Minded. The 27-year-old singer has used her star power to interview A-list guests including former Disney pals Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. And Krasinski’s YouTube series, Some Good News, got off to a roaring start by tapping into The Office fandom with a chat with Steve Carell. But the premise behind the new series – spreading good news and cheer – had a chance to shine with this week’s episode. John was touched by a Florida girl’s quarantine story of missing her chance to see Hamilton due to the pandemic, and invited her to video chat.
Suddenly, Hamilton’s creator and original star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, appeared on screen as a surprise for the 9-year-old. He then had the show’s original cast perform a video call performance of “Alexander Hamilton.” Just try and watch the video without bawling your eyes out – in the best way possible!
Is the reformatted “at home edition” of the late television weird? Yes; most things are strange right now. But I’ve certainly enjoyed watching the late-night world adapt.
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