Quinta Brunson’s 6th grade teacher won late at night this week

Quinta Brunson and Jimmy Kimmel chat with Ms. Abbott.
Photo: Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

It was a busy week late in the evening. Sebastian Stan offered his metal balls of Pam and Tommy to Jimmy Kimmel, Johnny Knoxville talked about getting smashed in the nuts at the Royal Rumble on The late show, and what are the growing tensions in Ukraine if not a global dick-measuring contest? It’s a very real World War III threat, that’s what it is.

Much like Ukraine itself, late into the night it tried to remain jaded in the face of the great conflict. Keeping things light was the order of the day, with the biggest fanfare given to David Letterman’s 40th birthday appearance on Late at night. Letterman lost his mind when he discovered that Seth Meyers had no “animal guy”. That’s how much things have changed in the 40 years since Late at night has become a show. The number of times I’ve seen a live animal (beyond the puppies regularly employed by Stephen Colbert) on a late-night show is surprisingly small. Since Letterman’s show debut, Late Night has become more political, less showbiz-y. Whether you think this is a good development depends on what you think the purpose of late night should be. Here are the clips that most served their purpose this week.

Bring in Barbara Lee The daily show this week was an inherently political act. It’s been a week full of geopolitical noise, and Barbara Lee is America’s best known. She is the only member of Congress to vote against authorizing the force that gave way to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and she is still working to repeal that authorization some 20 years later. Where everyone was content to do Russian accent work when discussing Ukraine (and TBH, Trevor Noah did that too), Noah made room for a dissenting voice. A voice of “simmer down now” – it’s the legacy of The daily broadcast.

It was just a stupid, goofy song imagining a world where Marvin Gaye can’t sing about oppression. Okay, yeah, that’s the world the anti-critical race theory pundits want, and so this cute little song sung by Last show House band member Louis Fouché was somewhat depressing. But deep down he was an idiot filk, Al weird style. No more room for song parodies; less room for anything else.

David Letterman said that if it had “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” as its desktop format, it would still be on the air somewhere. Un: Letterman is still on the air, just ask Netflix. DOCTOR: If he had hired more diversely, this piece could have been his. Three: Seth Meyers is the guy for this piece because he’s one of the best late-night space givers. While still being very comedic, Meyers leaves so much room for his writers to shine. It’s why Amber Ruffin has a show (and why do I have to wait until the Olympics are over for more?) and why Jenny Hagel can show off her wrist strength by opening a jar of pickles. Play to your strengths and make room for the strengths of others – that’s the big lesson of Meyers’ tenure on Late at night.

Sometimes you just need a gorgeous, effervescent guest, and Jenny Slate is one of those guests. The slate appeared on The show tonight to plug in his new rom-com, and his looks were just adorable. There are no other words. She recycled pieces she tried on her baby, talked about her COVID wedding (a classic anecdote in today’s late-night ecosphere), and was a perfectly charming late-night guest.

Jimmy Kimmel likes to surprise a guest with someone special. He launched hikes Denzel Washington, Adam Scottand George Clooney. It’s become a staple of his tenure on the show, which is the longest-running of any current host. But some surprises hit harder than others, and Quinta Brunson gets surprised by the teacher she named Abbott Elementary School afterwards was a big, big success. Brunson had a farklempt, Ms. Abbott had a paid vacation, and we all got to see what a network budget can do to bring topicality and greatness to a pop culture moment. That’s what late night is all about in a digital world: giving people their flowers at the exact moment they’re newsworthy.

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