TIME 2016 Election

Stephen Colbert and John Oliver on Donald Trump’s Election: ‘Don’t Give Him an Inch’

Stephen Colbert(L) and John Oliver (R) onstage at the Post-Election Evening to Benefit Montclair Film Festival at NJ Performing Arts Center on November 19, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Montclair Film Festival Stephen Colbert(L) and John Oliver (R) onstage at the Post-Election Evening to Benefit Montclair Film Festival at NJ Performing Arts Center on November 19, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.

"Who can make jokes to a sobbing audience?"

Stephen Colbert and John Oliver have both spent the past year making it perfectly clear to their shows’ viewers how they feel about Donald Trump, but during a live conversation at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Saturday night, the pair was able to speak more openly about politics than the late-night arena typically allows.

During the benefit show — titled “Wow, That Was Weird: A Post-Election Evening With Stephen Colbert and John Oliver” — the two chatted about the lead-up and aftermath of Trump’s victory, noting that it has been difficult to find humor in what has occurred throughout the election cycle.

“This whole process has not been fun, because it’s the inverse version of what we normally do,” the Last Week Tonight host said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “When covering a campaign, you try and take things of substance and put some sugar on it to make it palatable. But there was so little of substance this whole campaign — it was just a diabetes-inducing level of sugar, that your job kinda flips on its head. You’re just trying to find a way to inject substance into sugar.”

Colbert — whose live election night special, Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Sh-t?, grew increasingly somber as the results flowed in — also touched on this note.

“That show was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” he said. “You couldn’t cut to commercial either. We had a bunch of made-up commercials, but none of them were appropriate once we knew we were playing to an audience of the condemned. My audience was sobbing openly. Who can make jokes to a sobbing audience?”

The Late Show host went on to reveal his outlook on Trump’s presidency.

“I’m all for giving him a chance, but don’t give him an inch. Because I believed everything he said, and I remember everything he said, and it’s horrifying,” Colbert said. “He owes the checks and balances of Washington nothing, because they tried to stop him and they couldn’t. And he’s a vindictive person. So, it’s all going to be fine. Merry Christmas.”

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