They tweaked the titles of their shows
“You’re watching a very special social distancing edition of ‘The Late Show.’ Or as I now call it, ‘The Lather Show With Scrubbin’ Colbert,’ “The Late Show” host told viewers from his tub on Monday. Throughout the rest of the week, he modified the title based on an apparent elements theme: on Tuesday, it was the “The Flame Show.” On Wednesday, he hosted “The Light Show With Stephen Colb-air.”
Fallon hosted “The Tonight Show: Home Edition.”
Trevor Noah dubbed his altered format “The Daily Social Distancing Show.”
And for fans of TBS’s “Full Frontal,” there was: “Beeing at Home With Samantha Bee.”
Kimmel, meanwhile, did not change the name of his eponymous show, but he did coin a term for the less formal addresses he delivered each night: minilogues.
They cracked jokes about social distancing
“On behalf of the socially anxious everywhere, let me just say: way ahead of you,” Colbert riffed. “I have been avoiding human contact since before it was cool.”
“I’m so excited to be doing the show from my panic room. I mean my living room” Fallon told viewers on Monday. “As you can see I’m doing the show from home for two reasons: first to slow the spread of coronavirus, second so I can write off my real estate taxes.”
“We’re being told not to visit senior citizens and to FaceTime them instead,” Fallon later observed. “Whoever came up with that idea clearly hasn’t tried to FaceTime with someone over 70.”
“If you have kids, please don’t post pictures of your child’s daily schedule,” Kimmel advised. “It makes the rest of us who are letting their kids play on the iPad all day feel bad.”
“600 inmates were released from [Los Angeles] County prisons to stop the spread of the virus,” Spade informed viewers in his “lo-fi monologue” on Thursday. “Several of them promised not to rob any store that had more than 50 people.”
Conan O’Brien — who announced this week that he will return at the end of the month with audience-free episodes shot on the iPhone — offered one passerby a selfie “from six feet away.” (The man declined the comedian’s offer.)
They noted the absurdity of it all
“It is a freaky, freaky time, I’ll give you that,” Colbert told viewers from behind several feet of bubbles.
“We really don’t know what this is, but I wanted to put something out there for you guys, so that we could have some levity in these bizarre times,” Fallon said at the top of his first digital-only segment.
“Right now, we are basically living through a disaster movie in which the president is played by Gary Busey,” Kimmel joked.
“I’m Samantha Bee, and I’m just hanging out at my house fully made up,” the host of “Full Frontal” told viewers as she emerged from a wood shed for her first social distancing monologue.
They put their families to work
On Tuesday, Fallon told viewers his wife, film producer Nancy Juvonen, was serving as his camera operator. His daughters Franny and Winnie also made appearances, along with some of the children’s artwork.
Kimmel’s segments had an adorable intro designed by his daughter, who hummed a short tune as hand-drawn pictures of her father displayed on the screen.
Bee’s husband, Jason Jones, made a vocal cameo that found him arguing with his wife over what constituted a pun after Bee’s hand-washing tutorial turned into a bit about “washing your hams.” Bee segued into “how to not kill your spouse during these difficult times.”
They hosted special guests
Fallon had virtual check-ins with Jennifer Garner and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who reported that his family was “doing the responsible thing and self-quarantining.”
Noah had virtual visits from correspondents Jaboukie Young-White and Roy Wood Jr., who joked that he would be joining the NBA in an effort to get a test for the virus. “NBA show symptoms, they test ’em immediately,” Wood said. Noting that Tom Hanks and Idris Elba had been diagnosed with the virus, Wood concluded “if there’s ever a time to confirm whether or not you’re an A-list celebrity, this is the time.”
They reminded viewers that we’re all in this together.
Many hosts used their short episodes to raise money for charities helping families in need. Fallon’s 10-minute episodes, which were later added to the host’s on-air repeats, raised money for Broadway Cares, Feeding America and Save the Children. Kimmel also raised money for Feeding America and the Red Cross. Noah told viewers they could help ensure meals for children while they are out of school by donating to No Kid Hungry or the New York-based City Harvest.
When Colbert signed off on Wednesday, telling viewers his show would go on its planned hiatus next week, he confessed he hadn’t necessarily planned to broadcast his show remotely.
“C’est le pandemic. I’m sure all of you are going through other things you didn’t plan to do,” he said. “But if there’s one good thing that might come out of this crisis, I think it’s that in this seemingly divided nation, people are doing their best to protect the collective country’s well-being. Everywhere you look, people are looking after each other.”
“We can still disagree about many things but this crisis has driven home — literally home — the truth that this is one great nation, united by our belief in and our need for each other,” Colbert added. “And reinforced my belief that the American people, like all people, are essentially good and always want to know how to do the right thing.”