Colbert decided to forgo both the audience and the actual show last night and just air the rehearsal of Thursday’s “The Late Show,” because really, what’s the difference?
The host gave his monologue to a roomful of empty chairs and a smattering of his own staff members after making a last-minute decision to nix his studio audience a few days earlier than originally planned out of an “abundance of caution” in light of recent coronavirus fears.
“As you may have noticed, none of you are here right now,” the host said. “Let me explain what’s going on. All of the New York City late-night shows were planning to go without audiences starting on Monday — we announced that last night, actually. And that changed, because just a few hours ago we got some surprising news: we would be going without an audience starting tonight.”
“This is absolutely true: we’re just kind of winging it, this is a rehearsal right now,” he continued. “Which might be a good thing, because in my mind, all of my jokes are perfect. The only person who ever disagrees with me is the audience. Can’t disagree with me now, can you? Ha!”
The host also addressed the fact that beloved “Forest Gump” and “Big” star Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were recently diagnosed with the virus themselves.
“Hey. Coronavirus. Okay, yeah, you can shut down Italy. You can shut down South Korea. You can destroy our economy. But keep your filthy nucleocapsid proteins off Tom Hanks! The man is an American treasure. This is like learning that the liberty bell has herpes! It ends now,” he said, taking a sip of his whiskey as his staff-audience clapped.
“I want you to forget that I pay all of these people,” he said.
Watch the clip above.