Late-Night TV Amplifies Its Black Voices Amid Nationwide Protests

As protests against police brutality and racial injustice swept across America over the weekend and into this week, late-night TV comedy shows have responded by elevating and amplifying its own black voices.

Here’s an overview of what viewers could see on Monday and Tuesday night across the networks.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

As host of his own Comedy Central talker, and as someone who grew up under apartheid South Africa, Noah has a lot of experience and perspective to bring to the conversation. On May 29, Noah spoke about the domino effect of events on us.

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Meyers already had been giving writer Amber Ruffin a prominent role onscreen over the years (and NBC wisely gave Ruffin her own showcase on the new Peacock streaming platform, which will be available to everyone come July), and she has been sharing various experiences she’s had with the police.

On Tuesday’s show, she talked about one time she flew back to Chicago from Amsterdam to visit friends and family.

That followed her story from Monday night, about getting pulled over by a screaming cop.

Meyers also invited Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update anchor Michael Che, who had mocked the “all lives matter” folks in his Netflix special several years ago. Two of Che’s brothers are NYPD cops, too.

Leslie Jones joined Meyers on Tuesday, who talked about watching these riots, participating in previous protests. She implored Americans to vote in 2020.

The Late Late Show with James Corden

After five minutes of monologuing, Corden allowed his bandleader, comedian Reggie Watts, to talk more than usual on Monday night’s episode. Watts shared stories from his childhood, and how his parents fought for him to have a normal life. He revealed he’s cousins with novelist Alice Walker, who wrote “The Color Purple.” Watts broke down, which made Corden break down.

Corden also welcomed Dr. Michael Eric Dyson on Monday’s show.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Colbert asked his bandleader Jon Batiste to talk about his experiences, and then welcomed Killer Mike to the show on Monday.


Conan O’Brien turned his Monday show over to Van Jones.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Fallon apologized on Monday’s show for performing in blackface some two decades ago on SNL, for his impersonation of Chris Rock, and he spoke to the current president of the NAACP.

His guests this week so far have included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Phoebe Robinson and W. Kamau Bell.

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Kimmel was off on Monday, but back on Tuesday. He invited Shaq on to talk.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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