After an unimaginable tragedy like Sunday evening’s massacre in Las Vegas–the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history–everything “normal” feels perverse. Talking about how your fantasy football team did seems impossibly trivial. Going about the daily business of life just feels wrong. That’s why, for many viewers, it may have been comforting to see a disruption of the routine in late night television last night.
Not a single one of the most popular late shows pretended everything was normal. Instead, they leaned into the shocking event in a way that demonstrates how far away this moment is from order. Here’s how each of the hosts addressed the shooting.
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Fresh from making a huge splash in the healthcare debate recently, Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue last night has received the most attention so far. Kimmel is from Las Vegas, and here he is visibly shaken by seeing this level of carnage in his hometown. For nearly 10 tearful minutes, Kimmel speaks passionately about the urgent need for gun control, calling out some of the members of Congress to whom the NRA has paid millions of dollars to not act in situations like this one. I’ll take his monologue over their “thoughts and prayers” any day.
Late Show with Stephen Colbert
TONIGHT: In the wake of horrific violence and tragedy, Stephen appreciates "thoughts and prayers," but calls for more. pic.twitter.com/1T7tr7ByJw
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) October 3, 2017
Speaking of “thoughts and prayers,” in a pre-monologue message about Las Vegas, Colbert offers his own but also calls out the wild inefficiency of those in power who offer them and nothing else.
As the consistently silliest late night host in this or possibly any era, it’s especially jarring to see Conan O’Brien get serious. He took a tense few minutes at the top of the show to speak about how the world has changed since he became a late night host, lamenting how increasingly common monologues like this one have become.
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
As the resident Party Guy on the late show circuit, Jimmy Fallon is less equipped to deal with somber moments. It’s just not in his toolbox. He’s aware of this fact, however, which is why he forgoes in-depth commentary on the shooting and instead opens the show with a performance of Dido’s “No Freedom” from Miley Cyrus, accompanied by Adam Sandler. It’s an appropriately melancholy song for the occasion.
The Late Late Show with James Corden
James Corden’s perspective is worthwhile because he’s one of only two of these hosts, along with Trevor Noah, who grew up outside of America. “Now I come from a place where we don’t have shootings at this frequency so it’s hard for me to fathom,” the Brit says. “But it should be hard for everyone to fathom.”
Late Night with Seth Meyers
Seth Meyers gets straight to business with a quick appraisal of the situation and a reminder not to let the moment slip away without trying to do something about gun violence. “You always say, ‘Now is not the time to talk about it’ when what you mean is ‘There is never a time to talk about it,'” Meyers says. There is no hopefulness in his voice. He sounds like someone convinced of the country’s inability to change, and hoping he’s wrong about that.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Finally, there’s Trevor Noah. Like Corden, Noah is relatively new to the country, and sadly he already feels like he knows the drill when it comes to mass shootings. Like most of the other hosts, he calls out the GOP’s go-to stance that “This is not the time to talk about gun control.” Unlike the rest, however, he actually manages to get a joke in, comparing this tactic to how he might have responded to his mom trying to ground him as a child. It’s a thoughtful, respectful monologue that also betrays the fear that no matter what he or any other host says, they will likely have to say it again sometime soon.