Stephen Colbert’s five best monologues of 2020

A Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
A Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS) /
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4. Stephen Colbert delivers his monologue to an empty theater

It was back in March that the pandemic lockdown first began to affect late night television shows. New York City put restrictions on public gatherings, meaning shows like The Late Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers aired episodes without a studio audience.

Stephen Colbert’s first monologue without an audience was actually from the show’s dress rehearsal. So things were even a bit looser as Colbert delivered his jokes to staff members and the Late Show crew.

The monologue stands out among those from 2020 for being so unique. Colbert did seem a little thrown off by not having an audience reaction after each punchline. You can tell how 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.

Even without a crowd to egg him on, Colbert made sure to get in his shots on President Trump. Colbert’s criticism of the White House’s pandemic response here pales in comparison to what would come months later. But this is a reminder of how early Colbert’s monologues took aim at the administration’s incompetence.