It seems as though Jimmy Fallon is not ready to move past his unexpected feud with Donald Trump. Because there he was Tuesday night, popping up in the opening of his competitor Stephen Colbert’s show with his response to the president’s rant against the three big network late-night hosts during a rally in South Carolina the night before.
In his rambling speech, Trump criticized Fallon (“lost soul”) and Jimmy Kimmel (“terrible”) by name, but would only refer to Colbert as “the guy on CBS,” who he deemed a “low-life” with “no talent” to speak of. “Are these people funny?” he asked his crowd, before adding, falsely, “I can laugh at myself. And frankly if I couldn’t, I’d be in big trouble.”
The shout-out was a comedy gift Colbert just couldn’t ignore. For Tuesday’s cold open, he enlisted The Tonight Show host for a FaceTime chat. “Hey low-life,” Fallon said.
“Hey lost soul,” Colbert replied. “Be a man,” he added, in a reference to Trump’s recent tweet about Fallon’s regret over his hair-ruffling interview with the then-candidate in 2016. When Fallon asked what he was up to, Colbert answered, “I’m busy having no talent.”
As Tonight Show writer/producer Mike DiCenzo revealed on Twitter, Colbert and Fallon decided to both run the same FaceTime sketch as the cold open on each of their shows Tuesday night, almost certainly a first in late-night history.
The two hosts claimed to have missed the rally the night before but heard about the “pretty bad stuff” Trump said about them. “I heard he said we’re all no-talent, low-life lost souls,” Fallon said.
“Well, that’s not right,” Colbert said. “That’s Conan.” At that point, they conferenced in the TBS host who did not make the cut in Trump’s rant against late-night television—and pretended not to even know that “the real estate guy who sells steaks” had been elected president.
“Give him time,” O’Brien advised his fellow hosts. “And please, be civil. If we’re not careful, this thing could start to get ugly.”
The call ended with Colbert and Fallon agreeing to grab lunch soon at the Red Hen. When the opening credits rolled, the show’s name had been replaced. For tonight, it was known as “The Late Show with the Guy on CBS,” and that’s how Colbert introduced himself when he took the stage for his monologue.
“Welcome to The Late Show, one and all, I’m your host, the guy on CBS,” he began, before tearing into the Supreme Court for upholding the president’s ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. Responding to the 5-4 decision, Colbert said we were “this close… to being able to look our grandchildren in the eye.”
Trump may have been trying to weaken his late-night critics, but by bringing together the two men whose ratings fortunes have been shaped by his presidency, he seems to have only made them stronger.