Is there anything more chilling than watching America’s beloved late-night hosts delivering monologues to empty chairs, sans audience laughter?
As the ongoing coronavirus outbreak continues to raise health concerns around the world, both Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert recorded their respective Tonight Show and Late Show broadcasts without a live studio audience, casting an eerie tone over the typically cheery talk shows on Thursday night.
“Like you, I’m watching the news and I’m just as confused and freaked out as you are,” Fallon said at the top of the episode. “But, what I do know is when we’re there for each other, we’re at our best, and I’m here for you, we’re here for you!”
Without missing a beat, he segued into a far more comforting, comedic monologue dinging Sarah Palin’s appearance on The Masked Singer (“I mean, when has a conservative celebrity on a reality show ever been a problem?”) and the coronavirus itself as the show went on.
“The only people in the audience right now are some members of my staff,” Colbert said as he opened his show. “We don’t know what’s going on, there are two things to keep in mind: You don’t want to be part of the hysteria, but you also want to act with an abundance of caution.”
“In my mind, all of my jokes are perfect. The only person that ever disagrees with me is the audience,” he continued. “Can’t disagree with me now, can you?”
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While Fallon taped without an audience for Thursday’s episode, NBC has since decided to halt production on its evening talk shows, including The Tonight Show and Seth Meyers’ Late Night until March 30 at the earliest, with the former airing repeats starting Friday.
Watch Fallon and Colbert open their shows above, and be sure to keep up with EW’s rolling list of entertainment projects canceled, postponed, or altered in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
- Coronavirus cancellations: All the pop culture being shut down or delayed
- Late-night goes dark: NBC suspends Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers shows due to coronavirus
- Watch Whoopi Goldberg greet a live audience of empty chairs on The View
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