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How Late Night TV Has Adapted to COVID-19

Ever since COVID-19 took over the planet, our world as we know it has come to a standstill. This pandemic has affected every industry on this planet, and the entertainment industry is no different. Movies have either been pushed back or are released straight onto streaming services. Artists found creative ways to release videos and promote their music. Every other form of entertainment is feeling the effects one way or the other. And the late-night spectrum is no different. All late-night talk shows have had to adapt to social distancing norms and work from home.

We are all so used to Colbert, Kimmel, Fallon, etc. donned in their impeccable suit and ties, behind a desk in a proper studio. It is so weird to imagine them in anything and anywhere else. But the moment the lockdown rules were put in place, talk show hosts had to come up with new ways to bring content to everyone’s TV screens. They can’t operate like regular primetime TV shows. Late-night TV isn’t shot months or weeks in advance. They need to shoot on the day of – or sometimes even live – to keep the news as relevant and fresh as possible. News has a very small shelf life. Even 24 hours is pushing it. Especially now, when it feels like something newsworthy is happening every second.

Late-night hosts had to come up with a new way to engage with their audiences – and quick.

Late-night TV is a very important part of our pop culture. We turn to these talk show hosts every day to consume news is a fun and accessible way – in layman language, if you will. Or in some cases, we turn to them to simply watch a few celebrities play games and have a good night. And therefore, late-night hosts had to come up with a new way to engage with their audiences – and quick. Initially, most of the networks initially announced plans for the late-night shows to continue taping new episodes without live audiences. But they ended up suspending production entirely. So they got creative and adapted to the situation.

Stephen Colbert was the first person to start shooting videos from home. His first video was from his bathtub. He dressed up in his usual suit and sat down in a tub full of bubbly water to deliver his monologue by shooting from his iPad. In subsequent days, he decided to start filming from different locations in his house. Sometimes, he even involved his family and his pet dog. Now he has completely shifted base to his home and has guests over on video call for interviews.

Following him in was Seth Meyers. He also shifted his base to his house and decided to keep churning out his popular segment ‘A Closer Look’ for people to consume. Slowly, as production went on, he also switched to making a full-fledged show from his home. Celebrities and musical guests appear on video calls or with pre-recorded performances. Every late-night host has adopted this method.

Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel both decided to involve their family – especially their kids – into their shows. Kimmel’s kids drew and sing his show’s logo and theme song. Fallon’s kids also drew the logo and notoriously pop up in his videos from time to time as his wife is tasked with the job of manning the camera. Every episode, he highlights a new charity he (or the guest he has on) wants to raise funds for. The link to donate for each fundraiser is right next to each video up on Youtube if you wish to donate.

With literally the entire world on lockdown, celebrities are stuck at home too, so they pop by to say hi on video calls. And sometimes, it leads to very adorable results. When Tom Holland joined Jimmy Kimmel on his show a few days ago, Jimmy revealed that his son Billy is a very big fan of Spider-Man. So what did Tom Holland do? He dressed up as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with the resources he had available to surprise Billy. And the result was just too wholesome.

James Corden has decided to run his show from his garage. He even organised a massive show with a bunch of celebrities for charity. It is honestly very wholesome to watch these people bond with their families and just do everyday homely activities. We are so used to seeing in front of our screens every night. It somehow makes you realise that they are normal people too and are going through the exact same thing as we are.

Meanwhile, Trevor Noah and his team returned to television with new episodes produced from home titled The Daily Social Distancing Show With Trevor Noah. Samantha Bee, too, is working from home. She chops wood and delivers monologues from her very woodsy home.

Watching them create content from home makes them seem more normal, human.

Seeing as this pandemic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, it has been interesting to see how late-night TV stepped up to the challenge. These at-home videos really put their creative minds to the test as they figure out ways to provide fun and accessible content for the masses. And so far, all these hosts have stepped up to the game and have been delivering their best.

Obviously, it is not the same as watching them run things professionally in their tuxedos and suits from a proper studio. But watching them get creative and create content for their viewers from their homes with unexpected and adorable interruptions just somehow makes them more human. And while we all yearn for the day we actually get to go out of our houses again, we can take comfort in the fact that celebrities are no different. We’re all going through the exact same thing. So for now, hang in there and watch Jimmy Fallon struggle through his monologues while his kids constantly interrupt him.


Featured image: Youtube

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I’m a 19 year old Journalism student from Mumbai currently studying in the United Kingdom. A certified feminist, I’m not afraid to express my opinions. I stand up for what I believe in and fight for the voices that cannot. I love to read books and binge watch movies and tv shows and keep up to date with pop culture. Listening to music is my go-to comfort idea. I’m also an avid cricket fan and love a good game of badminton.

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