“By now, you’ve all probably heard of the incident involving Empire actor Jussie Smollett,” Trevor Noah started, to boos from his audience.
On Monday night, The Daily Show host became the first in late-night to tackle the bizarre Smollett case in depth—one that began with Smollett’s claim that he was attacked by a pair of racist, homophobic Trump supporters on the streets of Chicago who, after recognizing that he was the black gay actor on Empire, assaulted him, poured bleach on him, tied a rope around his neck, and yelled, “This is MAGA country,” but which is now said to be a hoax.
“Now it seems maybe there’s a lot more to the story,” Noah explained. “That’s right, the police now believe Smollett staged his own attack—which would be insane, but you have to admit, there’s a certain part of the story that was always a little weird. Like, who are the MAGA supporters who hate gay people, who hate black people, but also happen to watch Empire? Like, I’ve heard of hate-watching but that shit would be next-level. That’s like a member of the Klan buying tickets to Fiddler on the Roof.”
Indeed, the most recent reports suggest that Smollett staged the Jan. 29 attack, paying the two men $3,500 to help, after a racist letter with a mysterious white powder he received on the Empire set didn’t get a big enough reaction from the media.
“So now it’s being reported that Jussie Smollett paid a couple of guys to fake this attack. But who’d accept money to do such a thing? These guys,” offered Noah, before throwing to a news report on the Nigerian brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, the men allegedly paid by Smollett. Olabinjo served as a background actor on Empire, while Abimbola is reportedly Smollett’s personal trainer.
“Hold up, wait… so Smollett’s Nigerian personal trainer is one of the guys who beat him up? That doesn’t make sense—unless his trainer was just really pissed off that Smollett was eating Subway,” joked Noah. “This story is so weird. I don’t care who you are, this is a weird story, because now they’re saying that Jussie rehearsed the attack a few days before it happened. And look, I’m not gonna lie, that’s the one part of the story that actually makes sense to me, because if I was paying these two to beat me up”—he then threw to a picture of the men shirtless, flaunting their abs—“I would want to practice too.”
Noah continued: “So in the public eye, this story has moved from a hate crime against a popular TV actor to a giant hoax by a popular TV actor, but Smollett still insists there was ‘no collusion.’”
The comedian then played a clip from Smollett’s interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, wherein the actor cried while describing the “attack,” and speculated that the perpetrators would likely never be found.
“OK,” said Noah, “either this guy’s telling the truth, or he deserves an Emmy for that interview, because if all of that is just a performance, I don’t care what he’s lying about, you can’t cancel him. He’s just too good to not be on TV.”