The Best Late Night Reactions to the First Presidential Debate

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  • Debate hosts featured
  • It’s time for an all-you-can-eat late night buffet. The last time we did one of these, it was over Trump lying about the birther thing. But now that election season is officially in high gear thanks to this week’s debate, late night hosts are raring to tear into both candidates over a debate chock-full of lies, distortions, and sniffling.

    Once again, the lighter-toned Fallon and Corden sat this one out. (Kimmel had a short pre-taped segment; Bee and Oliver were off.) That means we got segments from Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah — you know, the grownups of late night. (RIP The Nightly Show.)

    Here are the original videos, along with a few of the best jokes and observations:

  • Late Night With Seth Meyers

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  • Best joke: “Which Hillary Clinton would show up? Would it be the serious and experienced diplomat, or the flirty gigglepuss who’s been tearing up New York City’s hotspots?”

    Kudos to the Late Night graphics team for opening up with some great visual jokes about how the debate (and its promotion) resembled a pit fight more than a distinguished political affair. (There’s a good sight gag about the words in Trump’s brain, too.) The close second for our coveted “best joke” award goes to Meyers’ line about the double standard between expectations for Trump and Clinton, saying expectations for Trump’s performance were in line with the expectations for a murderer’s parole hearing: “They need to believe you won’t kill again.”

    Meyers’ coverage was pretty even-handed, going after Clinton for her lame “Trumped-up trickle-down economics” line and her laugh/shimmy after Trump’s rant about temperament (“That’s how an aunt shimmies when she hears ‘Single Ladies’ at a wedding”), and going after Trump for just about everything else — his global warming lie, frequent interruptions, and insistence that journalists call Sean Hannity.

  • The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

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  • Best joke: (After a supercut of Trump saying “wrong”): “The only phrase he says more often is ‘I do.'”

    It still bums me out a little to see neutered, broadcast-TV Colbert tackling subjects that cable Colbert would’ve ripped to shreds. But this is still a pretty solid nine-plus minutes of jokes. There were a few obvious ones (calling out Clinton for the “first lie” of the debate: “Donald, it’s good to be with you”; going after Trump for “cybering”), but for the most part, the zingers came fast and strong.

    Other good jokes: “Trump sounded like he was fighting off a cold… with cocaine”; comparing Lester Holt’s admonishment of the audience to an upset dad driving rambunctious kids (“I will turn this debate around!”); and a real dad joke groaner with “Hillary was so prepared, my new nickname for her is Preparation H.”

    Colbert also did a bit with Rob Lowe playing an undecided voter that was pretty funny:

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  • The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

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  • Best joke: “(The debate commission) caved to both candidates’ demands. They gave Hillary Clinton a shorter podium and let Donald Trump stop and frisk Lester Holt.”

    I love The Daily Show, but this was a bit of a struggle. Trevor Noah looked like he’d been up all night, and monologuing for nearly 14 minutes must have taken a bit of a toll on him. The best parts were all character bits, like his Melania Trump impression (that was just an excuse to play the “small hands”/”small dick” card on Trump), the Truth Trump character, and best of all, Roy Wood Jr.’s appearance at the very end to “black check” the debate.

    There were still some good jokes, though. On Trump not paying taxes: “You know who else found a way around the rules? O.J. No one likes him.” On psyching out the opponent: “Hillary Clinton invited Mark Cuban to sit in the front row, because Donald Trump might get psyched out by seeing a real billionaire.”

    What do you think? Which was your favorite late night take on the debate? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter!

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