The late night comedy scene is back in full swing after a five-month hiatus due to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike that ended last week. The hosts of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with Seth Meyers all returned to their studios on Monday night, October 2, 2023, and expressed their gratitude and excitement for being back on air.
Colbert: “It feels good to be back”
Stephen Colbert, who had been off the air since May 1, opened his show with a pre-taped sketch of him stranded on a rowboat at sea, where a dolphin informed him that the strike had ended with a new contract that included protections from artificial intelligence, cost of living increases, and better pay for streaming. He then made his way back to the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where he was greeted by his band and audience.
“It feels good to be back,” Colbert said, noting that “Thanks to the picket lines, my writers got fresh air and sunshine — and they do not care for that. Now they’re back safely in their joke holes, doing what they do best: Making my prompter word screen full of good and ha-ha.”
Colbert also joked that he had missed a lot of news during his absence, and proceeded to recap everything that happened over the summer, from the Olympics to the Afghanistan withdrawal to the Texas abortion ban.
Fallon: “I really love this job”
Jimmy Fallon, who had also been off the air since May 1, started his show with a series of jokes about how excited he was to be back in the Tonight Show studio: “I’m more excited than a guy seeing the Beetlejuice musical with Lauren Boebert. I’m more excited than a Jets fan during the first three plays of the season.”
After a commercial break, he got more serious and said, “I had a lot of time — five months — to really sit and think. I just took a moment and realized how grateful I am for all of this, for this show. I really love this job.”
Fallon also thanked his writers, his staff, and his fans for their support during the strike, and said he was looking forward to making people laugh again.
Kimmel: “The weirdest thing about being off the air is, when I walk in a room, nobody claps”
Jimmy Kimmel, whose show began a little later than Fallon’s or Colbert’s, due to Monday Night Football on ABC, did a cold open of him in therapy (his shrink: guest Arnold Schwarzenegger), before taking the stage only to find it commandeered by a pickleball foursome. He then kicked them out and welcomed his audience back.
“We’ve been gone so long, The Bachelor is now a grandfather,” he said. “The weirdest thing about being off the air is, when I walk in a room, nobody claps.”
Kimmel also praised the WGA for securing a fair deal for the writers, and said he was glad to be back to work.
Meyers: “We are so happy to be back”
Seth Meyers, who had also been off the air since May 1, decided to skip the guests and dedicate his entire show to a mega edition of his signature segment, “A Closer Look”, where he dissected the latest political news and scandals. He also thanked his writers and the union for their efforts during the strike.
“We are so happy to be back,” Meyers said. “We missed you guys so much. We missed doing this show. We missed making jokes. We missed our writers. We missed our crew. We missed our band. We missed our studio. We missed our city. We missed our country. We missed our planet. We missed our solar system. We missed our galaxy. We missed our universe. We missed our multiverse. We missed our omniverse. We missed our everything.”
The late night hosts were among the first shows to go dark at the start of the WGA strike on May 2, 2023, and among the first to make their returns after the strike ended on September 27, 2023, with a tentative three-year contract agreement between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The new deal includes gains on issues such as streaming residuals, diversity and inclusion, and artificial intelligence.