By Andrea Mandell
With a nation in mourning, late-night hosts grappled with how to address the worst mass shooting in U.S. history Monday night.
Jimmy Kimmel’s eyes welled up and his voice shook as he recounted the violence in his childhood hometown.
“It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up or give up,” said the Jimmy Kimmel Live!host. “It’s too much to even process, all these devastated families that have to live with this pain forever because one person with a violent and insane voice in his head managed to stockpile a collection of high-powered rifles and use them to shoot people.”
Kimmel castigated Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan who “sent their thoughts and their prayers today. Which is good. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.”
Then he broadcast photos of over 50 senators who voted against closing loopholes on background checks following the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre.
“With all due respect, your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient,” said Kimmel.
Over at Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Trevor Noah also took on the argument that now is “not the right time” to discuss gun control.
The South African host said he’s been exposed to 20 mass shootings since moving to the U.S. two years ago. “When is the time (to talk about guns)?” asked Noah. “If you say after a mass shooting is never the time, then you’ll never have the conversation in America because there’s a mass shooting almost every single day.”
He continued: “When a plane crashes we talk about plane safety immediately. When a bridge collapses we talk about infrastructure immediately … we seem to do everything to avoid talking about guns,” said Noah, before pivoting to news clips of talking heads questioning if hotel security was tight enough. “So, just to keep track of the argument: Mass shooting, mass shooting, mass shooting…’We have to take care of this hotel check-in issue.‘”
Conan O’Brien tried to make sense of the escalation in deadly mass shootings. He traced his career back to 1993, when “occasions like this were extremely rare.”
That was then. The Conan host said his head writer met him at the office on Monday with a stack of remarks O’Brien made after the Sandy Hook and Pulse nightclub mass shootings. “You might want to look at them to see what you might want to say tonight,” his staffer told him.
“That struck me,” said O’Brien. “How could there be a file of mass shooting remarks for a late night host? When did that become normal?”
O’Brien acknowledged that he’s not the most political of his late-night brethren. “I never have been,” he stated. “But I don’t think it should be so easy for one demented person to kill so many people so quickly … Something needs to change. It really does.”
Stephen Colbert dangled a different sort of carrot in front of President Trump.
“Now, President Trump, you’ve said you want to be a transformative president, who doesn’t care about the way things have always been done in Washington D.C.” Colbert began.
“This is your chance to prove it! And I mean this sincerely. You do not owe the Republicans anything. You know the Republicans tried to stop you from being president. Well, screw ‘em!”
Colbert then went full MAGA. “You want to make America great again? Do something the last two presidents haven’t been able to do: Pass any kind of common sense gun legislation that the vast majority of Americans want.”
Over on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon let music take the lead.
“In the face of tragedies and acts of terror, we need to remember that good still exists in this world,” said Fallon, who scrapped his monologue and had Adam Sandler and Miley Cyrus open the show singing a cover of Dido’s ballad, No Freedom.
“In honor of the lives lost, injured and affected by the tragic shooting in Vegas, (Jimmy Fallon) & I dedicated this show to not only mourning this horrific event but using this platform to encourage unity, peace & hopefulness!” wrote Cyrus on Twitter.
Cyrus also sang The Climb, a song she said she hasn’t performed live in years. “These words mean more now to me than ever,” she tweeted.