Mayor Pete Buttigieg made his late night hosting debut by filling in for Jimmy Kimmel.
Thursday night was a strange one in the land of late night television. Look no further than South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg guest-hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live! in front of an empty audience as proof.
It sounds like a bad edition of Mad Libs but that’s what fans saw when they tuned in to ABC last night. And it wasn’t just Jimmy Kimmel Live! that was different. Late Night with Seth Meyers cancelled its show, The Late Show played to an empty theater, and The Tonight Show also went without an studio audience. Those New York City-based shows were following recommendations on containing the novel coronavirus and will continue to go without crowds next week.
Anyone tuning in only to find Jimmy Kimmel absent may have been concerned given the news. But Kimmel is fine and instead was busy taping Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Kimmel has been tapped to host a celebrity edition of the game show reboot, coming to ABC in April.
Guests hosts have been used a number of times in the past at Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Stars like Chris Pratt, David Spade, and Jennifer Lawrence have all filled in. So it was a bit of a surprise to see Pete Buttigieg standing in front of the cameras and given the difficult task of delivering jokes without much of an audience.
Buttigieg becomes the latest Democrat to drop out of the race and drop into late night television. Last week, it was Senator Elizabeth Warren who followed up the end of her campaign with an appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Buttigieg deserves a lot of credit for agreeing to this gig. It’s not exactly the easiest time to be a late night host to begin with. Much of the country is on edge and it is becoming increasingly difficult for comedians to find the comic relief so many people are seeking.
On top of that, Buttigieg had to do it with only a handful of people in the audience. On a normal night, he would have received a warm reception from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! crowd eager to put him at ease with laughter.
Kimmel’s staff was clearly aware of that and came up with the perfect solution. Clips of standing ovations, crowd reactions, and celebrities laughing were a clever way of addressing the elephant in the (empty) room.
Overall, it was a solid performance by Pete Buttigieg especially given the circumstances. He may have a career in television if he wants it because it’s clear he can’t hack it in the pretzel business. What did you think of his monologue? Let us know in the comments!