Of all the late-night hosts who transitioned to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, arguably none have remained as vital and true-to-self thus far as Stephen Colbert. On Wednesday, before signing off for what had been a previously planned break, the Late Show host provided viewers with an earnest assessment of the current moment and a vision for what could happen on the other side.
“Obviously, Plan A wasn’t to broadcast this week on FaceTime. But, c’est la pandemic,” Colbert said at the end of his Wednesday home broadcast. “I’m sure all of you are going through other things you didn’t plan to do. But if there’s one good thing that might come out of this crisis, I think it’s that in this seemingly divided nation, people are doing their best to protect the collective country’s well-being. Everywhere you look, people are looking after each other.”
Colbert said he was particularly encouraged by people putting aside their politics, at least for now. “We can still disagree about many things but this crisis has driven home—literally home—the truth that this is one great nation, united by our belief in and our need for each other,” Colbert said. “And it reinforced my belief that the American people—like all people—are essentially good and always want to know how to do the right thing.”
Despite the upcoming break, which would have carried him through next week before a return on March 30 under normal circumstances, Colbert promised he would be back on the air soon and he thanked viewers for watching the previous three home-spun episodes. The host then threw to band leader Jon Batiste, who from his own home, played “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” on piano.
Colbert initially and abruptly signed off from The Late Show last week, after hosting an episode without an audience. But the CBS host made a surprise return on Monday, performing a monologue while sitting in his bathtub. In the two days since then, the rest of his late-night competition has followed similar terrain: Jimmy Fallon is hosting a daily version of The Tonight Show from his house, Jimmy Kimmel has been putting up mini-monologues up onto YouTube, and Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee have found creative ways to connect with audiences as well. Later this month, Conan O’Brien will return to his TBS show as well, hosting new episodes with interviews conducted via video chat.
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