Stephen Colbert decided to forgo his regular cold open Monday night in favor of a somber address from behind his desk on the mass-shooting in Las Vegas.
“Obviously, this is a comedy show,” the Late Show host began. “But it’s one that talks about what happens every day. And today, the national conversation is about the shootings in Las Vegas, and jokes aren’t appropriate to address the shock and the grief and the anger we all feel.”
Colbert said he wanted to send his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families, but he also knew that “thoughts and prayers” are not enough. Noting that President Donald Trump called the shooting an “act of pure evil,” Colbert said, “I think he’s right.”
“So what then are we willing to do to combat ‘pure evil?’” he asked. “The answer can’t be nothing. It can’t.” Colbert said the “bar is so low” that Congress can be “heroes” by doing “literally anything.”
“Anything but nothing,” he added. “Doing nothing is cowardice. Doing something will take courage. But you know what? It took courage for the people at that concert last night to help each other as bullets flew. It took courage for the first responders to rush in and do their jobs. It took courage for people in Las Vegas simply to go about their day today.”
Addressing Trump directly, Colbert said, “You’ve said you want to be a transformative president who doesn’t care about the way things have always been done in Washington, D.C. This is your chance to prove it.”
“I mean this sincerely—you don’t owe the Republicans anything. You know the Republicans tried to stop you from being president. Well, screw ’em. You want to make America great again? Do something the last two presidents haven’t been able to do. Pass any kind of common-sense gun-control legislation that the vast majority of Americans want.”
“Because if we are facing ‘pure evil,’ then by all means offer thoughts and prayers,” he concluded. “But think about what you need to do and then pray for the courage to do it.”