Stephen Colbert delivers monologue to empty Late Show studio

Stephen Colbert (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
Stephen Colbert (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS) /

Crowds were held out of late show theaters earlier than expected, leaving Stephen Colbert with no audience.

The novel coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt daily life and late night television is no exception. Fans got the first view of just how on Thursday night when The Late Show with Stephen Colbert aired without an in-studio audience.

Earlier this week it was announced that all New York City-based late night shows, including The Late ShowThe Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Late Night with Seth Meyers, would film without an audience starting on Monday. However, that timeline changed and theaters were empty on Thursday.

The result was a strange mood across the late night shows. Still, the hosts, staff, and bands did their best to make the most of the situation and deliver entertainment.

The Late Show was no different as Stephen Colbert delivered his monologue to a handful of his staff members. The segment came from the show’s typical rehearsal time, meaning things were a little looser at the desk.

Colbert does seem a little thrown off by not having an audience reaction after each punchline. Maybe it is his instincts as a comedian kicking in but it’s as if he tries to save jokes that he thinks fell flat. The reality is that he’s delivering the jokes to a small group of people who likely had a hand in creating the jokes. It certainly makes for a different type of tough crowd.

But whether he has an audience or not, Colbert isn’t going to pass up the chance to take a few shots at President Donald Trump. Colbert has been very vocal about questioning President Trump’s competency and leadership during the novel coronavirus crisis.

President Trump’s address on Wednesday night was guaranteed to end up as late night monologue material. A public health emergency wasn’t going to keep Colbert and The Late Show writers from making jokes.

The president didn’t help his case as Colbert points out he looked like a deer in headlights. And without that reassurance, the Late Show host is likely reaching for more of his bourbon no matter how well Jon Batiste plays the piano.

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It was an interesting watch to see how Stephen Colbert delivered his comedy without a live audience. It also served as a preview of what’s to come next week as late night navigates the novel coronavirus outbreak.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.