The Top 10 Late-Night Moments

From John Oliver's blistering takedowns to Barack Obama slow jamming that news

  • 10. Alanis Morissette updates 'Ironic' with James Corden

    Rocking the iconic red beanie and braids look from the “Ironic” music video, Alanis Morissette and James Corden teamed up to put a 2016 spin on the seminal ’90s ballad. The modernized performance was part of a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of the 42-year-old singer’s Jagged Little Pill album and included hilarious updated lyrics such as, “It’s like swiping left on your future soul mate. It’s a Snapchat that you wish you had saved.”

  • 9. Jon Stewart takes over The Late Show

    Jon Stewart’s 16-year Daily Show tenure may be over, but during The Late Show’s live coverage of July’s Republican National Convention, the comedian returned to television to deliver one of his spirited rants about American politics. After spending nearly 10 minutes dressing down Donald Trump, the GOP and Fox News — taking particular aim at hypocrisies he said the news channel displayed — Stewart ended his monologue with a poignant summary of one of the election’s central issues. “Those fighting to be included in the ideal of equality are not being divisive,” he concluded. “Those fighting to keep those people out are.”

  • 8. Seth Meyers goes live after the first presidential debate

    Following Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Sept. 26 debate — the most-watched debate of all time with an estimated 84 million viewers — the Late Night host went live to assess the performances of both nominees. The episode included an installment of Meyers’s popular “A Closer Look” segment, allowing him to take a deep dive into how both Clinton and Trump had lived up to the different expectations set for them. “Basically her tasks look like advice you’d give a secretary before a job interview in 1950,” Meyers noted about the goals set by MSNBC for the nominees. “Meanwhile, his sounds like advice you’d give a murderer at a parole hearing.”

  • 7. Stephen Colbert reflects on the election

    In one of the year’s more somber late night segments, Stephen Colbert lamented America’s increasingly polarized political system during the closing moments of his Showtime election night special, Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going To Clean Up This Sh-t? The host spoke candidly about the toxicity of the 2016 presidential campaign for both parties, noting that nearly half of Democrats and Republicans believe the other side’s policies “pose a threat to the nation.”

    However, he ended on a bit of a lighter note, listing a series of topics all Americans can agree on — including a deep dislike for work emails and the manner in which Kit-Kats should be eaten — before encouraging people to come together as one.

  • 6. Trevor Noah reacts to Donald Trump's victory

    Employing a mix of sincerity and humor, Trevor Noah put an emotional, yet amusing spin on the end of the presidential race. Reflecting on the state of the country as the largely unexpected results of election night rolled in, the host interspersed his usual one-liners — “I’d call it a nail-biter, if I had any nails left” — with a call to action for viewers who were hoping for a different outcome — “Stay strong, stay positive.”

    The Daily Show correspondents also came through in the clutch, delivering zingers about the aura of surprise at the headquarters of both Clinton and Trump.

     

  • 5. John Oliver makes Donald 'Drumpf' again

    In a February segment that shattered HBO records by racking up more than 95 million online views, John Oliver spent roughly 20 minutes critiquing Donald Trump’s candidacy before urging people to begin referring to the now president-elect by his family’s ancestral name, Drumpf. The Last Week Tonight host even announced that the show had not only purchased the domain DonaldJDrumpf.com, but would be selling hats featuring the slogan, “Make Donald Drumpf Again.”

    After mostly ignoring Trump throughout the beginning of the election process, Oliver used the clip’s momentum to begin an impassioned campaign against the Republican nominee, culminating in a November bit that Oliver may be to blame for Trump’s success.

  • 4. Samantha Bee takes on gun violence

    Following June’s Orlando nightclub shooting, Samantha Bee made it clear she’s not a fan of the typical late-night response to tragedy. In a year that saw the U.S. debate over gun control once again thrust to the forefront of political discussion, the Full Frontal host refused to toe a nonpartisan line, instead delivering a scathing monologue advocating for increased regulation of assault weapons.

    Bee even called out Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, chastising him for taking what he criticized as a laissez-faire approach to the problem. “This wasn’t even Orlando’s first high-profile gun murder of the weekend,” she said, referencing the fatal shooting of singer Christina Grimmie that had taken place that Friday. “Stop thinking and do something to improve our society.”

     

  • 3. Michelle Obama's Carpool Karaoke

    Carpool Karaoke has taken the late-night world by storm the past year and a half, allowing James Corden to show off his charismatic personality as he spends quality time with some of the world’s biggest stars. But while watching singers like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears jam out with The Late Late Show host is always entertaining, there’s been nothing better than seeing the First Lady sit shotgun for the musical segment. As Corden drove Obama around the grounds of the White House, the pair sang along to tunes such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” before picking up Missy Elliott for a rendition of “Get Ur Freak On.”

  • 2. Ben Affleck sneaks Matt Damon onto Jimmy Kimmel Live!

    Reigniting a years-long feud between Damon and Kimmel, Affleck strapped Damon into a harness to smuggle his longtime collaborator on stage during the Live! post-Oscars special. But Aflleck didn’t count on the host catching onto his hilarious ruse. “I want everyone to sit down,” Kimmel told the audience after they erupted in cheers at the sight of The Martian star popping out of Affleck’s oversize suit jacket. “No clapping.”

    The popular late-night gag has only picked up steam since then, culminating in a surprise onstage retaliation by Damon at the Emmy’s that Kimmel hosted.

  • 1. Jimmy Fallon and Barack Obama slow jam the news, again

    For the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama joined The Tonight Show host to slow jam the news, delivering a soulful recap of his eight-year Oval Office residency with the help of house band The Roots. POTUS first participated in the fan-favorite musical segment during a special broadcast of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon from the University of North Carolina in 2012. But that appearance didn’t have him dancing to Rihanna’s “Work.”

     

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