Last week both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon attempted to put on a show with no audience. Both attempts were funny only because they were such terrible failures. On October 29 and 30, 2012 David Letterman did shows without audience just before and after hurricane Sandy as seen here. Telling a joke with only Paul Schaefer with his signature annoying laugh just didn’t work. Colbert’s audience consisted of about 20 staff members. Part of the way through his monologue he asked “Is this going okay?” And they all cheered and applauded. He thanked them and then reminded the viewers “Of course I pay these people so who knows.” Another good line was he said “Each night in my mind the show is perfect. All of the jokes are hilarious. And the only thing that goes wrong is when an audience shows up and proves me wrong. Tonight with no audience to disprove it, this show will be perfect.”
Seth Meyers and James Corden went to reruns rather than go audience free.
Now the late-night comedians have taken to YouTube to do 10-20 minute monologues. Here’s a sampling. Suggest you subscribe to their YouTube channels to see remaining episodes. It’s sort of reminiscent of amateur YouTubers who haven’t quite yet figured out how to do lighting and audio in a home environment. Click on the show title to get to their entire YouTube channel. And then click the links on individual shows.
March 18 Colbert in his backyard fire pit. Includes a very funny parody of “Danny Boy” and a nice piano concert by bandleader Jon Batiste.
March 17 Quarantine Minilogue. Discovers by staying at home that he actually has children. Says that they watched Frozen 2 more times than the animators who created. Apparently first in a series.
March 12: A Closer Look. Seth Myers canceled his Thursday night show but went ahead and recorded his “A Closer Look” segment that they had already written the night before. He hasn’t done any additional YouTube since then.
March 17 Home Edition (The First One). Shot by his wife on an iPhone apparently from his kids play room. Wonderfully amateurish 🙂
March 16: Did his regular show without an audience. Could not do it in his regular studio because it had been contaminated by someone who tested positive. Clearly the most successful non-audience show of the group.
He is showing reruns on broadcast and has not contributed anything to YouTube
Overall I’m giving the entire collection a rating of “I’m watching”. It’s really nice that I don’t have to record the entire show and fill up my DVR. I could just watch these monologues on YouTube whenever they come up. Hope you are staying safe and healthy during this crisis.