First thing's first: the coronavirus is obviously no laughing matter. The disease has become a pandemic of global proportions as more than 115,000 people are known to be infected worldwide. The outbreak is costing lives, taking a toll on the economy, leading to the cancellation of major events, and an entire country has been put under lockdown to prevent further spreading of the coronavirus. However, though the coronavirus is decidedly not a joke, the hosts of late-night TV always find a way to imbue a little levity into even the most upsetting situations, and COVID-19 is no exception.
In particular, these on-air personalities seem to be unimpressed with the U.S. government's efforts to contain the virus — and the stock market fallout — especially when it comes to Donald Trump's public remarks and actions of late. Read on to find out how the major hosts of late-night TV have handled the latest news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
Tuesday night, Stephen Colbert continued his tradition of ripping into the president during his opening monologue, joking, "Fear of the virus has had a huge effect on the economy. Yesterday, the DOW fell 2,000 points, so the president immediately held a press conference to announce his plan to plan to have a plan to do stuff." After running through news clips of Trump speaking about potential economic relief actions at a press conference, Colbert offered his own impression of the statement, mocking, "'I'm here with Mitch McConnell and others, with everybody, to announce some hastily thrown together measures ... I'm just throwing handfuls of dry dog food at a charging tiger. But here's a tax cut and maybe some loans and some substantial reliefs for everybody — small companies, fat companies, sexy companies, ugly companies — tell me when one of these works. Anybody, send up a flare.'"
Colbert also dug into the recent news that Trump himself may have been exposed to coronavirus, after being in close contact with certain politicians who spent time with a now-diagnosed individual at the CPAC conference in late February. "You'd think Trump would be taking the threat of the coronavirus more seriously than this since he might have it," Colbert joked. He later added, "President Trump, who is now surrounded by people who've gone into self-quarantine, still hasn't been tested for coronavirus. That means, we'll just have to keep our eyes open for any signs of sickness, like mental fogginess or poor sleep or thinning hair or strange coloring. Not only has Trump not been tested, he seems proud of the fact that he's not taking any precautions to protect the people around him. In fact, yesterday, Trump arrived in Florida and immediately began shaking hands with people waiting at the airport. Yikes! That's like not using protection when having sex with a porn star you just met at a golf tournament. Who would do that?"
Seth Meyers also weighed in on Trump's potential exposure to the disease during his show, saying, "President Trump told reporters today that he has not been tested for the coronavirus, but just to be safe, the virus has decided to self-quarantine."
Meyers then discussed some of the actions being taken by areas which have been affected by coronavirus cases, including Ireland, which recently canceled all St. Patrick's Day parades to prevent further contagion. "Irish people are so depressed, they started drinking 500 years ago," he joked. The most ridiculous example, for Meyers, was something that's happening right here in the U.S. "In an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a restaurant in California is taking customers' temperatures before they are seated — unfortunately, all with the same thermometer," Meyers quipped.
On a similar note, Jimmy Kimmel also harped on the president's refusal to heed the advice of his own experts, saying, "[Joe] Biden and Bernie [Sanders] both canceled rallies today because of coronavirus. The Trump campaign said they are going to keep going, they are going to proceed normally, which would be a first. President Trump told reporters today he's not been tested for the coronavirus ... and he plans to continue shaking hands and assured us that his immune system is perfect. Many are calling it the most beautiful immune system ever created."
Kimmel also dug into one of the reasons why it may seem like the government was not prepared for the onset of a disease of this magnitude, explaining, "The White House says they have everything under control, which must be why they delayed the release of a report from the Director of National Intelligence which says the United States is not prepared to handle a pandemic. One possible reason we might not prepared is back in 2018, Trump fired the entire U.S. pandemic response team to save money. But he has a plan. This morning, he commented on a tweet, 'Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever!' This is to a retweet to a guy who thinks the wall can help control the virus, which, by the way, there are almost 1,000 cases reported of coronavirus in America. You know how many there are in Mexico? Less than 10. So, he's right. The wall would help to protect them from us. "
Trevor Noah didn't hold back when it came to his show's coverage of the coronavirus pandemic either. In addition to airing a segment called "Pandumic," which consisted of clips of the administration's most vexing responses to the disease, he also contrasted the global responses to the outbreak with what Trump has had to say on the subject.
"As scientists fight every day to learn more and more about coronavirus, governments around the world are doing their best to contain the crisis. In Israel, anyone entering the country has to go into a 14-day quarantine. In India, they're sending coronavirus alerts to all one billion cell phones. And in Washington, D.C., President Trump has said that in order to stop the spread of the disease, he'll stop shaking hands and go back to grabbing people by the p----y," Noah said.
Noah then dug into the prevailing pointer that's been offered to Americans to help control the spread of coronavirus: "social distancing." "Yes, the buzz phrase of the moment is social distancing, also known as 'don't breathe on me, bitch.' And this looks like it could be a pretty big change for our society — although it's also the perfect excuse if you've been wanting to break up with someone," he joked. "Actually, I wish social distancing a thing when I was in middle school."
Jimmy Fallon spent much of his coronavirus segment making light of how certain areas of the country have been responding to the virus' spread, poking fun, for example, of New Jersey after it declared a state of emergency. "It's serious. The last time this happened was when they ran out of pinky rings as a Sopranos convention," he joked.
However, Fallon still managed to squeeze in one major jab at the president when he said, "President Trump's brand new chief of staff Mark Meadows has already self-quarantined himself. Not because of the virus. He looked around on his first day and was like, 'Oh, hell no. I'm not ready for this.'"
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on CBS. Late Night with Seth Meyers airs weeknights at 12:35/11:35c on NBC. Jimmy Kimmel Live airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on ABC. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weeknights at 11/10c on Comedy Central. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on NBC.