Senator Kamala Harris is officially Joe Biden’s running mate, and surprisingly Twitter isn’t the only place where people have made jokes about that. Our nation’s robust late night comedy industrial complex has been visibly desperate for weeks to know Biden’s nominee, and were ecstatic to finally unleash the VP material their writers have long been hording. Okay, so not all of these shows brought their A game. They didn’t always do more than one or two drafts of these jokes. They were all still totally okay with letting some hackneyed guff slip onto the air—some more than others. That’s just what happens when you’ve got to crank this stuff out every single day, like an assembly line of market-tested, prefab yuks for the nation to fall asleep to (or, most likely, watch on YouTube the next day). When you’re producing comedy at scale you can’t expect it all to land—or even most of it. The proof is below.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
We’ll start with Colbert, the late night market leader, and once the most astute political comedian in America. Colbert and his uncharacteristically boisterous hair didn’t actually lead with the Harris news. He started off talking about Connecticut congressional races, because all politics are local, I guess. Jump forward to the 3:45 mark to see Colbert’s remarks on The Vlottery Veeperbowl Veep-Tucky Derb-Veep Hot Dog Veeping Contest for Veep President news. Yes, he points out how Harris tore into Biden at one of the debates last year. That’ll be a recurring theme…
The Daily Show
Trevor Noah, current star of Colbert’s old stomping ground The Daily Show, likewise went straight to Harris’s wicked burns of Biden during the debate season. Sure, they ultimately didn’t amount to much, but it’s an easy hook to peg jokes on, and the kind of simple framing that the news media relishes. Noah does point out how Harris’s career as a prosecutor would typically appeal to Trump’s base, which shows a slightly deeper political awareness than our next show…
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Yep, somehow they still let Jimmy Fallon attempt political comedy. It goes over about as well as you’d expect. Here’s what the guy who playfully tousled Trump’s hair during the 2016 campaign had to say about Biden’s pick.
That’s right, Joe Biden has selected Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. Kamala is the daughter of two immigrants. She went to Howard University. She’s a Democratic Senator from California. That’s an inspiring story—unless you’re Trump, and then it’s a Stephen King novel.
You’ve got to love facile pop culture references masquerading as political humor!
The Late Late Show with James Corden
Finally, there’s James Corden, who surprisingly still has a show, that even more surprisingly isn’t made up entirely of car karaoke. Sometimes it takes an outsider to really understand and criticize a culture, as John Oliver proves almost every week on HBO; Corden ain’t that outsider. He rolls out the limpest possible jokes about Harris, Trump, Mike Pence, the American political system, and more—and you can watch it all in the video above.