In the wake of Sunday night's horrific hate crime that left 49 dead and even more injured, TV's late-night comedians were faced with the difficult task of deciding how to deliver their usual comedic monologues. Some adopted a completely serious tone. Others worked in a few jokes. Several chose to focus their statements on gun control reform, while at least one centered his monologue on what this attack means for LGBT people as a community. Here is our rundown of all the reactions from Sunday and Monday night's programming.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Stephen Colbert takes a somber tone as he discusses the script we're all used to hearing after every mass shooting. "Love is a verb. To love is to do something."
The Late Late Show with James Corden James Corden acknowledged the tragedy on Sunday night as part of his hosting duties at the Tony Awards. He was back as host of his own show on Monday, which started off as business as usual, but he took a break after teasing appearances by Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda to talk again about the tragedy in the context of his experience at the Tonys. The video's not sharable, but here's the best quote:
"Obviously a tough day yesterday, and to be amongst that Broadway community that have always been so welcoming to the LGBT community was incredible, if I'm honest because the news was so horrific and so heartbreaking that you suddenly think, well, everyone in this room, how will this feel, what will this awards show feel like? And then very, very slowly as the day went on you realized that someone, somewhere, working for the American Theater Wing had just made 3,000 of these ribbons for everybody to wear as just a sign of reaching your hands out to anyone who had been affected because this is a community that has never had any prejudice toward anyone of sexuality or gender or race. And it was incredible."
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon New father Jimmy Fallon wonders "What do I tell my kids? What can we learn from this? What if my kids are gay? What do I tell them?" He goes on to encourage debate and peacefully disagreeing with each other, and then encourages Orlando to "keep loving each other. Keep respecting each other. And keep dancing."
Late Night Show with Seth Meyers Seth Meyers holds off on the regular comedic monologue to discuss the shooting and use his platform to condemn the ownership of assault rifles. He sets aside motive, saying, "Whether the shooter was a homophobe, mentally ill, a terrorist inspired by ISIS, or all three, what allowed him to kill so many people on Sunday was his gun."
CONAN Conan O'Brien Similarly went after semi-automatic weapon ownership: "Now I am not a pundit. I am not an expert, and I've always always made it a policy to stick to my job and keep my opinions to myself. I have really tried very hard over the years not to bore you with what I think. However, I am a father of two; I like to think I have a shred of common sense, and I simply do not understand why anybody in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi-automatic assault rifle. It makes no sense to me." He also directs people to gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund if they wish to help those suffering in Orlando.
The Daily Show Trevor Noah worked in a few jokes in his call for change: "We know how this always plays out. We're shocked. We mourn. We change our profile pics. And then we move on. It's become normal. But I'm sorry. Maybe it's because I'm new, but it's not normal, and it shouldn't be normal. We shouldn't allow this to be normal. It's not a normal thing. It's like milk from almonds or sushi from Walgreens. It's not normal, people." He points out that when we realized terrorists could use airplanes as weapons, we regulated air travel and did everything in our power to make sure they never did that again, and yet we leave guns unregulated. "Isis without guns is just basically a blog," he points out.
The Nightly Show Larry Wilmore spent a significant portion of his show talking about Sunday's attack, and he addressed the impact on LGBT people much more directly than the rest of his talk show host cohorts. "Politicians will tell you this was an attack on American freedom, but it was first and foremost an attack on an American minority group. The deadliest mass shooting in American history specifically targeted a gay night club. Not only during Pride month but on the eve of the gay Super Bowl (the Tony Awards)." He also agrees with President Obama that gay bars are more than just a gathering place: "Gay bars are really like black churches... Yes, gay bars may have more strobe lights and sugar-free well drinks... but they offer just as much love, just as much safety, and just as much belting by powerful black songstresses."
He wraps up powerfully: "So whether or not a jihadi extremist was at the heart of this attack, this was an attack on gay safe spaces. But for those members of the LGBT community who feel scared: don't stop singing, dancing, or living. We need to bring the vibrant love and joy of the gay club into the outside world, not bring the outside world's violent hatred into gay clubs."
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver John Oliver took a self-deprecatory tone, inviting audiences to enjoy his "stupid show" after he talks for a moment about the attack and pointing out that the gunman is vastly outnumbered by good people like those lining up to donate blood to the victims. He goes on: "In Orlando early this morning the gunman attacked a Latin Night at a gay club in the theme park capital of the world. And for the record, I will happily embrace a Latin Night at a gay club in the theme park capital of the world as the ultimate symbol of what is truly great about America."
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Samantha Bee delivered a furious and sometimes hilarious rant about how gun massacres continue in the U.S. She took on the shooter right at the top, discussing several known warning signs and saying, "None of these things disqualified him from legally buying a gun that shoots 45 rounds a minute. Not even his terrible mirror selfies. I think we can all agree that if you don't have one friend to hold the phone for you, your lone-wolf ass doesn't get a gun." She also nails Florida governor Rick Scott on dodging questions about policy changes and on his telling CNN that the best thing they can do to help is pray.