Stephen Colbert swaps his desk for the tub. Photo / Getty Images
The late-night line-up in the United States is officially on hiatus amid social-distancing efforts to slow the coronavirus. But despite saying last week that his show would lack new episodes for at least two weeks, Stephen Colbert wasn't about to leave viewers with reruns.
The Late Show host surprised fans on Tuesday (NZ time) with a "social distancing edition", airing on CBS during the show's normal time slot — which he hosted from his bath.
While his fellow hosts were relegated to YouTube, and not their usual networks, Colbert's bathtub address set the tone for a week of remote check-ins from the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah and more. Here's how it went.
Show titles tweaked
"You're watching a very special social-distancing edition of The Late Show. Or as I now call it, The Lather Show With Scrubbin' Colbert," Colbert told viewers from his tub. During the week he modified the title based on an apparent elements theme, such as The Flame Show, and The Light Show With Stephen Colb-air.
Fallon hosted The Tonight Show: Home Edition.
Trevor Noah dubbed his altered format The Daily Social Distancing Show.
David Spade offered Lights Out: Live From the Bunker.
And for fans of TBS' Full Frontal, there was: Beeing at Home With Samantha Bee.
Kimmel kept his show's name, but coined a term for his less formal addresses each night: minilogues.
"On behalf of the socially anxious everywhere, let me just say: way ahead of you," Colbert riffed. "I have been avoiding human contact since before it was cool."
Fallon told viewers: "I'm doing the show from home for two reasons: first to slow the spread of coronavirus, second so I can write off my real estate taxes.
"We're being told not to visit senior citizens and to FaceTime them instead," he observed. "Whoever came up with that idea clearly hasn't tried to FaceTime with someone over 70."
"If you have kids, please don't post pictures of your child's daily schedule," Kimmel advised. "It makes the rest of us who are letting their kids play on the iPad all day feel bad."
"Six hundred inmates were released from county prisons to stop the spread of the virus," Spade informed viewers in his "lo-fi monologue" on Thursday. "Several of them promised not to rob any store that had more than 50 people."
Conan O'Brien — who said last week he would return at the end of the month with audience-free episodes shot on iPhone — offered one passerby a selfie "from six feet away". (The man declined.)
The absurdity of it all
"It is a freaky, freaky time, I'll give you that," Colbert told viewers from behind bubbles.
"Right now, we are basically living through a disaster movie in which the president is played by Gary Busey," Kimmel joked.
Nation unites in crisis
Colbert said: "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 wellbeing. Everywhere you look, people are looking after each other."