The late-night talk shows turned emotional on Monday, June 13, when, instead of opening with the usual jokes, several of the hosts dedicated their first few minutes on air to segments on the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub on Sunday, June 12. Comedians Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah all responded to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history with sensitivity and hope.
During Late Night With Seth Meyers, the host decided to forego his monologue and instead do a “Closer Look” report. “So much, though, of the news right now is dominated by the horrific events in Orlando, the attack on the LGBT community there,” Meyers said. “And so, we decided we would try to address that and, in addressing it, maybe help us all process it a little bit more, because I don’t know if we can ever fully understand it.”
Meyers began by pointing out the “tremendous outpourings of compassion and good will” that have occurred since the fatal incident, including thousands waiting to donate blood, local restaurants providing food and beverages to those in line and donations pouring in to local LGBT centers that offer grief counseling. He brought up statistics about gun ownership to convey his views — while the U.S. has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it has almost half of the civilian-owned guns in the world. “There’s a relationship between gun availability and gun death … which should be obvious. That’s like saying where there’s more white people, there’s more brunch,” he deadpanned.
He drove his point home by citing a quote from an experienced hunter to Slate that an AR-15 rifle, the exact gun that was used in the shooting, is not necessary for hunting or home defense — and should be banned from civilians. “It is first and foremost designed as an assault weapon platform, no matter what the spin. A hunter does not need a semi-automatic rifle to hunt, if he does he sucks, and should go play video games,” Meyers read.
Stephen Colbert took a different approach on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and focused on love prevailing over hate. He gave a heartfelt monologue reminding viewers that they need to make a change and not accept that acts like this are commonplace in the world now. “Naturally, we each ask ourselves, ‘What can you say in the face of this horror?’ Sadly, you realize you know what to say but it’s been said too many times before,” Colbert said. “You know what a president, whoever it is, will probably say. You know what both sides of the political aisle will say. You know what gun manufacturers will say. Even me, with a silly show like this, you know what I’m going to say.”
He said there is a “national script” that we’ve learned to accept. “It’s easy, it’s almost tempting to be paralyzed by such a monstrously hateful act, to despair and say, ‘That’s just the way the world is now,’” he said. “Well, I don’t know what to do. But I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything … Love does not despair.”
Trevor Noah, meanwhile, spent more than eight minutes advocating for gun reform and slamming those who don’t believe the Orlando shooting was about gun control. Many claim it’s an issue of terrorism and radical Islam. “[President Barack Obama] has hosted 12 state dinners but given 16 mass shooting addresses,” Noah said on The Daily Show. “Right now the White House is using more Kleenex than it is good napkins.”
Noah brought up 9/11 and how the day inspired change in U.S. airplane policies, calling for America to support tougher gun laws. “Terrorists didn’t use guns on 9/11. They used planes to kill thousands of people and as soon as we realized they could use planes as weapons we worked together as a society,” he recalled. “We worked our damnedest to make it harder for them to ever do it again. We locked cabin doors. We expanded the no-fly list. We even make everyone pose for X-ray nudes. What we didn’t do was say this has nothing to do with airplanes and it has everything to do with radical Islam.”
He emphasized that it’s about both terrorism and guns. “ISIS without guns is just basically a blog,” he said. Noah then mentioned the late Voice contestant Christina Grimmie, who was also a victim of gun violence, and the man who was caught driving to the L.A. Pride parade with weapons on Saturday, saying these were two more examples of why the country needs to make a change.
As Us Weekly previously reported, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien also addressed the nightclub shooting, which killed 49 and injured at least 53, in their opening monologues. Fallon, as a new father, wondered how he would explain the act of violence to his children. “Maybe there’s a lesson from all this. A lesson in tolerance,” he mused. O’Brien took a stand against assault rifles and called for a ban on ownership. “I simply do not understand why anybody in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi-automatic assault rifle,” he said. “These are weapons of war and they have no place in civilian life.”
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