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Having the last laugh: How late-night comedy is moving online during coronavirus

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The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically changed the course of modern-day entertainment, especially in the realm of late-night television. Fortunately, late-night hosts like Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden and Jimmy Fallon already have a large virtual following on their YouTube channels and have transformed their homes into studios.

In the absence of live audiences, the dynamic and delivery of each comic's jokes has changed but remains enjoyable. Hosts continue to deliver great monologues with insightful political commentary and are actively conducting interviews with health experts, government officials and celebrities who are carrying out various kinds of COVID-19 relief initiatives. Here are four men on New York City-based late-night television embracing, or attempting to embrace, working from home:

Trevor Noah

With more than 7.3 million subscribers on YouTube, Comedy Central's Emmy Award-winning "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" has now become "The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah." South African comedian Noah and his diverse team of correspondents, including Roy Wood Jr., Ronny Chieng and Dulcé Sloan, have managed to put together an online show that's both informative and entertaining.

Noah is particularly good at being an interviewer who asks questions that are to-the-point and listens to his interviewees. Notable names Noah has interviewed include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), Bill Gates and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Apart from its intelligent satire and important updates and monologues summarizing coronavirus-related news around America and the world, Noah's show also has various videos on YouTube that talk about much-needed good news. Additionally, the content is organized into YouTube playlists so that viewers can watch each episode's segments with ease.

Stephen Colbert

Colbert's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on CBS has transitioned to "A Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and has created some fine content for his viewers to consume online. Like many people who are working from home, Colbert does not sugarcoat the struggles of our vastly different daily lives in 2020. Colbert occasionally checks in with his charming pianist from the show, Jon Batiste, and reminisces on life in the studio.

Apart from his cutting commentary on domestic affairs and the government's response to the coronavirus crisis, Colbert has also interviewed people like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Lady Gaga, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Martin and other late-night hosts like Conan O'Brien and Noah. It makes sense that his YouTube channel has garnered more than 7.4 million subscribers. Colbert is an exceptional conversationalist and his new home environment lets his natural interviewing abilities really shine.

A fun segment on the show is "Tooning Out the News," which adds childlike cartoons to real news segments such as CNN's Anderson Cooper's viral interview with the mayor of Las Vegas from last week. Colbert's show is also conveniently organized into playlists on YouTube.

John Oliver

HBO's Peabody and Emmy Award-winning "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" has more than 7.9 million subscribers on YouTube. Oliver's carefully constructed and factual monologues cover controversial, and sometimes even obscure, social and political subjects. Each monologue is approximately 20 minutes and dives deep into the causes and effects of its central theme.

So far, the blunt English man has done five episodes on the coronavirus pandemic, shot against a clinical wall that the host described in his "Coronavirus III" episode as "a blank white void full of sad facts."

Oliver often starts his episode with something silly before dissecting his central theme of the episode. For instance, the latest episode, "Coronavirus V," began with Oliver's reaction to Dame Judi Dench dancing with her grandson on TikTok.

Oliver is one of the few hosts on late-night television that can openly swear, which adds a sense of honesty and real entertainment value to his show. Oliver is a man of action and often suggests Twitter hashtags, creates new websites and enlists the help of celebrities on his show to get his message across to a wider audience.

Seth Meyers

"Late Night with Seth Meyers" on NBC has more than 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube and currently has its host reporting from his attic. The "Saturday Night Live" alumnus and star of the Netflix comedy special, "Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby," is best known for his show's monologue segment, "A Closer Look."

In his time on the show during quarantine, Meyers has had conversations with one of his most frequent guests, Chef Martha Stewart, SNL colleagues like Maya Rudolph, John Mulaney and Amy Poehler and American political figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).


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