The show must go on. After late-night shows went on temporary hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of their hosts found ways to improvise with at-home monologues. That trend has now taken off, as a number of shows have returned to broadcast with fully filmed-at-home episodes.
This week, several shows returned with new episodes, including Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Desus & Mero, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, and Watch What Happens Live. Other shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Lights Out with David Spade have also been improvising with select social distancing segments.
Read on to find out how all the hosts of late-night TV have been delivering new material — despite being isolated at home like the rest of us.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is ended its hiatus Monday, March 30. Colbert returned with a new episode, filmed at home with his son acting as camera operator, his daughter serving as his makeup stylist, and his dog coming along as his scene-stealing special guest.
Colbert, who said he wore a suit for the show just "to seem somewhat normal," reminded audiences that no matter how unprecedented the coronavirus pandemic may be, they should be more than ready to handle the social distancing effort. "I know a lot of you are stressed because we're all in isolation, and no one knows how long this is going to last, but I have a simple message for you: America, you got this," Colbert said. "You have been training for this moment your whole lives. Every canceled plan, every 2 a.m. Netflix binge, every Grubhub order from the restaurant across the street, it was for this. We're Americans. There's nothing we do better than not doing things."
Those words echoed a similar statement from his earliest at-home monologue. On Monday March 16, Colbert delivered a monologue about social distancing from the comfort of his bathtub. (Don't worry, he was wearing a tuxedo, and he was covered in bubbles.) In it, he urged Americans to do their part by staying home and doing nothing: "To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, ask not what your country can do for you, ask how many episodes of Love Is Blind you can watch in one sitting."
Before the show's official return, which also featured fellow late-night host John Oliver speaking about how his own show is handling the novel situation, Colbert's other social distancing segments included a chat from his backyard fire pit, another outdoor monologue covering the news that the virus has now spread to all 50 states, and videos of him changing a bike tube and having fun with his facial hair.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on CBS.
Seth Meyers also returned with a new Late Night broadcast from home on Monday, March 30. His first full episode back featured an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, which will be followed on Tuesday by a remote interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren.
In his opening monologue on Monday, Meyers laid into Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In response to Trump's boasts about the viewership ratings of his daily press briefings, Meyers noted, "Hey, man, we're not tuning in to hear from you. We're tuning in to hear from Dr. Fauci. He's the Ross and Rachel of this thing, and you will always be the Gunther."
Later, in his "A Closer Look" segment, Meyers addressed reports that Trump was troubled by the price tag of federally funded ventilators. "So, you couldn't spare a few billion for emergency medical supplies and ventilators as a deadly virus was spreading, but you had trillions lying around for a massive corporate tax cut a few years ago?" the host said. He also responded to a viral clip from Justice with Judge Jeanine's at-home show on Saturday, saying, "She's about to grab a microphone and ruin her daughter's wedding."
During Late Night's brief hiatus, Meyers also filmed new editions of regular segments like "A Closer Look" from home.
Late Night with Seth Meyers airs weeknights at 12:35/11:35c on NBC.
Conan O'Brien returned for his first filmed-at-home talk show episode on Monday, March 30 after a pre-scheduled hiatus led into the social distancing orders. He will film new episodes of Conan entirely from home, featuring original monologues and web video interviews with various celebrities.
In a break from other talk show hosts, O'Brien did not attempt to cover the daily news cycle during his new episode. He even joked in the opening, "These shows we're going to do are going to tell you nothing. They will contain no information. None whatsoever. You'll probably be stupider after you see these shows than you were before. I'm just telling you upfront. All I can promise you is this will be a highly unprofessional endeavor, night after night."
Conan airs weeknights at 11/10c on TBS.
Jimmy Kimmel Live ended its hiatus Monday, March 30. Though it marked his first official show back on air, Kimmel was still filming from his home and featured intro graphics drawn by his kids. His first episode back featured an interview with comedian Tracy Morgan and a bathtub concert by Jeff Tweedy. Other guests lined up for Kimmel's first week back include Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Aniston, Grouplove, and more.
Like his colleagues, Kimmel began his show with some scathing commentary on Trump's ratings obsession. "Just because people are watching you doesn't mean it's good," he said. "Have you heard of The Masked Singer?" He also threw in a reference to Netflix's smash docuseries Tiger King: "Right now, half of this country is watching a show about a bunch of toothless meth heads abusing tigers."
Before the show's official return to full episodes, Kimmel had been shooting mini-monologues from his home and conducting interviews with celebrities like Dave Matthews and Courteney Cox. His final shortened show featured an interview with Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. The webisodes were each dedicated to raising funds for different charitable causes.
Jimmy Kimmel Live airs on weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on ABC.
Andy Cohen, who revealed on March 20 that he had tested positive for coronavirus, moved ahead with plans for Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen: @ Home. The Bravo talk series returned on Monday, March 30, with guests Nene Leakes, Lisa Rinna, and Jerry O'Connell.
Watch What Happens Live airs on weeknights at 11/10c on Bravo.
Showtime's Desus & Mero also returned on Monday, March 30 with a new episode recorded via webcam from hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero's homes in the Bronx (featuring Desus' famous sneaker room) and New Jersey, respectively.
For their first show, the two talked about social distancing and the streaming phenomenon that is Tiger King on Netflix. They also featured an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become one of the most important and influential figures in the Trump administration's coronavirus task force.
Desus & Mero airs on Mondays and Thursdays at 11/10c on Showtime.
John Oliver returned for his first post-hiatus episode of Last Week Tonight on Sunday, March 29, and, like everyone else in the field, he taped the new episode at home. In the segment, Oliver slammed certain conservatives for prioritizing the health of the economy over that of Americans, saying, "You get that the coronavirus is not The Hunger Games, right? You can't volunteer yourself as tribute."
Last Week Tonight airs on Sundays at 11/10c on HBO.
Jimmy Fallon began his own lighthearted at-home edition of The Tonight Show on Tuesday, March 17 to celebrate St. Patrick's Day under quarantine, with his wife serving as camera operator for the segment and his dog and daughter joining in as the evening's special guests. The host even performed a song about the holiday to help raise money for the hunger-relief organization Feeding America.
Fallon followed that up the next night with an at-home mini-show featuring his daughters, Franny and Winnie, who did the intro music and stepped in for cameos, and celebrity guest Lin-Manuel Miranda, who played his own intro music on the keyboard and talked about his experience learning to home-school his children. This time, Fallon used the segment to promote BroadwayCares.org/help2020 to help theater artists affected by the shutdown.
Samantha Bee returned to TBS with full episodes beginning March 25, just one week after she delivered the first installment in her coronavirus era series "Beeing at Home," promising to offer "daily tips for how to survive and thrive while also social distancing."
In the first episode, Bee demonstrated (badly) how to chop firewood and joked, "I don't know how lumberjanes do it." She went on to lament the fact that grocery stores have been overrun by people buying essentials in hopes of reselling them at a profit. "It's deeply sad that the Beanie Baby of today is a two-ounce bottle of Purell, but here we are."
Other highlights from Bee's coverage include her notes on how the coronavirus is impacting small businesses and workers and an interview with an ER doctor who is on the front line of treating patients infected with coronavirus.
Trevor Noah announced that The Daily Show would be joining in on the filming-from-home spree in mid March. He also invited audiences to watch him do some deep cleaning in his home.
On Wednesday, March 18, Noah got a bit more organized and delivered a full episode that covered the news of the U.S.-Canada border shutdown and the NBA suspension. The episode also featured a chat with Roy Wood. Jr. He also used the segment to raise funds for NoKidHungry.org.
Noah has subsequently covered news like Donald Trump's plan to re-open the country's businesses (and churches) by Easter and chatted with former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy about the healthcare crisis that's happening alongside the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
David Spade has also been going lo-fi in the wake of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, March 17, he delivered his first monologue from home, updating fans on how his own family is handling the crisis.
The following night, he returned with another quarantine chat — this time from a bunker in his house — and covering some recent celebrity news, like Flavor Flav's 61st birthday and those wild The Bachelor results.
Real Time with Bill Maher was another late-night show that shut down without airing new episodes the week of March 15. Deadline reports that Maher will begin filming new episodes from home, and the show will make its return on Friday, April 3 at 10/9c on HBO.