When Pete Buttigieg first announced his presidential campaign last spring, he probably could not have imagined that less than a year later he would be guest-hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live! in the middle of a global pandemic.
The novel idea to have the former South Bend mayor fill in for Jimmy Kimmel, who was off shooting his reboot of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, must have seemed like a better idea a few days ago, before the novel coronavirus shut down much of the United States. Hosting a late-night show is challenging on a regular night, let alone in the middle of a national crisis without a live studio audience.
“Now this is a strange night for us,” Buttigieg acknowledged in his opening monologue. “Not only because this is my first time hosting a talk show, but because we’re doing it without a regular audience.” Buttigieg joked that it was “disappointing, because as you all know, I love to crowd surf. It’s kinda my thing.”
“When you don’t have a real audience, you have to fake one,” he added after cutting to footage of a huge crowd. “Just like Trump’s inauguration.”
Instead of properly roasting President Trump’s address to the nation, Buttigieg urged viewers to call their lawmakers and tell them “now is the time for action.”
“And look, I know this is a time of great anxiety for our country,” he said. “But believe me when I say that the resolve of our nation is strong. Our ideals run deep, and America will always be America. In fact, here is living proof of that from last night’s Masked Singer.”
After showing a clip of Sarah Palin singing “Baby Got Back” in a pink furry bear costume, he joked, “That’s going to be me in three months, isn’t it?”
Later, Buttigieg addressed some of the “skepticism” that has been expressed about him hosting a late-night show. “They’re like, ‘You’re too inexperienced, you’ll never be a good late-night host,’” he said. “Well, a lot of people said I’d never get elected president—and I showed them!”
The ex-candidate’s best jokes ultimately came at his own expense. “As you know, I dropped out of the presidential race last week, which was unfortunate,” he said. “But what can I say? Some candidates know when it’s time to get out of the race, and some candidates are Tulsi Gabbard.”
“But really, running for president was an amazing experience,” he added. “The support my campaign got was unbelievable and I really thought we had a shot. But turns out I was about 40 years too young and 38 years too gay.”
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