Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah address the moment


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Who is the world’s most trusted leader? Hint: It’s not a man. Kimmel, Colbert and Fallon take a look at why Trump didn’t top the list.

USA TODAY

President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis was the top topic Friday for late-night comedians, who wished the president a speedy recovery but couldn’t resist a few jabs about his handling of the pandemic.

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel and NBC’s Jimmy Fallon opened their monologues discussing the positive tests of the president and first lady Melania Trump, while others came back on their day off to address it, reflecting the gigantic nature of the news.

Stephen Colbert, who did not have a new episode of CBS’ “The Late Show” scheduled Friday, put one together after the president’s diagnosis was revealed. “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, who appears Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central, made a short video addressing the topic.   

Here’s a sampling of their commentary:

Best variety talk series: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” CBS (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)

Stephen Colbert: ‘This is a serious moment’

Colbert explained that he decided to put together the unusual episode because of the consequential news of the Trumps’ diagnosis. He arranged for two appropriate guests, CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook and longtime political reporter John Dickerson.

Colbert, a frequent Trump critic, tried to separate the health of the couple and the need to protect the presidency from Trump’s own behavior.

“Say what you will about the president — and I do — this is a serious moment for our nation. And we all wish the president and the first lady of the United States a speedy and a full recovery,” Colbert said.

After detailing Trump’s helicopter trip to Walter Reed Medical Center after developing a fever and other symptoms, Colbert discussed the importance of protecting the president’s health while sprinkling in some barbs aimed at Trump himself. 

“I really think it’s important for all of us to separate the man from the office. And I hope on Nov. 3, we literally do,” Colbert said. “But for now, I find it troubling, moving even, to see the president of the United States being taken to the hospital.”

He continued: “To recap, the commander in chief of the most powerful nation on Earth has fallen ill with a virus that has hobbled the entire world. This, after spending the last few months holding rallies, mocking people who wear masks and generally acting like he was invincible, even though he’s a 74-year-old man with pre-existing conditions.”

The diagnosis shouldn’t have been surprising, Colbert said: “A lot of people are calling this an October Surprise. I think it’s more like an October well, yeah.”

He noted that Democratic nominee Joe Biden wished the Trumps a swift recovery. “That’s a classy response,” Colbert said. “But let’s not forget. Biden needs Trump to get better. I mean, at the next debate, Joe can’t interrupt himself.”

Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!,’ is teaming with legendary producer Norman Lear and a star-studded cast for a special that will celebrate and re-create episodes of Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’ (Photo: Randy Holmes, ABC)

Jimmy Kimmel: ‘White House is now like a summer camp with lice’

The host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” threw off a few one-liners, aiming one at the president’s fondness for McDonald’s. “Aides say the president appeared to be lethargic over the past few days. They got worried yesterday morning when he couldn’t smell his McGriddle.”

Kimmel pointed out Trump’s age and weight put him at higher risk. “Fortunately, he does have Obamacare, so he’s covered on those pre-existing conditions,” he said of a president whose administration is asking the Supreme Court to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. 

“No reasonable person wants anyone to get this disease, but you can’t look past the fact that over and over again, Trump has been making fun of Joe Biden for wearing a mask,” he said, before showing a montage of clips with the president doing just that. 

“Ha, ha and ha,” Kimmel fake laughed. “Here’s the thing. Masks protect us from the coronavirus. They protect us from getting it and spreading it. That’s a fact. If everyone wore a mask, we might not have any of this anymore. But this president doesn’t think they look good, so now he has the virus and his wife has it and every staffer who may have come into contact with the president is at risk. Basically, the White House is now like a summer camp with lice.”

Kimmel closed with a sympathetic message, and then a joke about Vice President Mike Pence potentially succeeding the president.

“We hope the president will be OK,” Kimmel said, before introducing a video Trump shot Friday saying he was going to the hospital “to make sure that things work out.” 

Kimmel’s translation: “In other words, ‘Pence, you better say the hell out of my Oval Office.'”

Jimmy Fallon: ‘Unlike the presidential debate, I hope people can learn from this’

“The Tonight Show” host marveled at the deluge of momentous news: “In any other time in history, this would be the craziest story of all time. In the year 2020, it’s Friday.”

The Trumps’ diagnosis forced him to rip up his planned monologue. “Last night, I went to bed thinking tonight’s whole monologue would be about NASA calling off their mission to send a $23 million toilet to space. We had 300 jokes on that.”

Fallon wasn’t certain about the sincerity of every message wishing Trump a quick recovery. “Once the news broke, tons of well-wishes poured in from leaders around the country. Some Democrats even meant them.”

He got in a dig at white-haired Pence, who tested negative for the virus. “For the nurse, it’s like sticking a cotton swab up a giant cotton swab.

In pointing out the significance of the president getting the coronavirus, Fallon ripped Tuesday’s universally panned Trump-Biden debate.

“Unlike the presidential debate, I hope people can learn from this,” he said. “If the most powerful, most protected person on Earth can get COVID-19, anyone can,” he said. “And no one should have to suffer through this horrible virus.”

Trevor Noah: ‘Wear a mask!’

“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” doesn’t air episodes on Friday, but the host put together a short video that included a strong message about masks along with some digs about how Trump misinformed the public and resisted safety protocols relating to the virus.

“As a comedian, I’m not going to lie, my first instinct was to make jokes,” said Noah. “Jokes about how a 74-year-old man who doesn’t eat vegetables and eats way too much meat is literally the kind of guy that corona puts in its dating profile. I also wanted to make jokes about how Dr. Fauci is at the White House right now prescribing Trump bleach injections and bottles of I-told-you-so.” 

Then he got serious. “If the president of the United States can get coronavirus, then what excuse do the rest of us random (jerks) have for not wearing a mask? This guy literally had people tested around him. He had the Secret Service bitch-slap anyone who even sneezed in his direction,” he said.

“And yet still, because he wasn’t wearing a mask and he insisted coronavirus was fake and didn’t take the necessary precautions he should have, now he’s back in the bunker being cussed at by Melania like he was a White House Christmas decoration,” Noah said, referring to comments the first lady made about Christmas in a recording released Thursday.

Noah then got to his main point. “People, coronavirus doesn’t care about your politics. It doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. What it does care about is if you’re wearing a mask. And no, I’m not saying that a mask makes you impervious, but I’m saying if it can help at all, then why not take the chance?” he said.

He closed with an urgent instruction: “Wear a mask!”    

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