Rachel Maddow was featured in both of the two biggest late-night shows on television Wednesday night, even though she was only scheduled to be a guest on one.
On the same night that the MSNBC host was scheduled to appear on NBC’s The Tonight Show, CBS’s Stephen Colbert opened The Late Show with a parody version of Maddow’s underwhelming reveal of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return on her show the night before.
“I hold in my hands something significant,” Colbert, as Maddow, said in the show’s cold open. “A joke that we have confirmed has been heard by Donald Trump. We believe this is the first time any joke connected with Donald Trump has been released.”
Every time Colbert tried to tell the joke in question—starting with, “Why did the chicken…?”—he cut himself off and went on a tangent to build suspense, just as Maddow did on her show with Trump’s tax return.
“Whether or not you’re a Trump supporter,” Colbert added later, nailing Maddow’s particular mannerisms, “it ought to give you pause that after all of this buildup, I still haven’t gotten to the punchline.”
Colbert continued to hammer Maddow in his monologue, saying, “Rachel took us on an emotional rollercoaster because, like a rollercoaster, at the end we were all right back where we started, and feeling a little queasy.” After playing a clip of her teasing the returns, he added, “She’s got nothing.”
Mere minutes later, if viewers decided to switch over to NBC, they would have seen Maddow herself defending the decision to hype the tax-return “scoop,” just as she did in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove earlier in the day.
“I think the reason people were so excited is because it’s really weird that the president hasn’t released his financial information,” Maddow told Fallon. “It’s really odd, and there’s reasons to worry about it.”
“So when we found out that we had one,” she added of the tax returns, “it was like speaking to a group of people dying of thirst in the desert and we were like, ‘Behold, we have found a drop.’”
“Was there a huge, damning bombshell in these tax returns? No,” Maddow admitted later. But it is “the first piece of the jigsaw puzzle.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon asked his guest such hard-hitting questions as, “You were trending on Twitter last night!”
For her part, Maddow did not seem particularly upset about Colbert’s tribute of sorts, tweeting this response after the video went up online Wednesday night: