2016 was not entirely terrible, but in most ways it was objectively terrible — or at least challenging. And without the wit and perspective of Samantha Bee, John Oliver and James Corden, this year might have proven impossible altogether. As we wait to see what 2017 will bring, let’s take a look back at some of the most refreshing and important moments late-night had to offer in 2016.
Vice President Biden reunites with Stephen Colbert
Back in 2015, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on “The Late Show” — and proceeded to engage in one of the most raw, honest and emotional interviews Colbert has mustered since he replaced David Letterman. Over a year later, Biden returned with his thoughts on the election results. While many have been worried about the incoming administration — concerns Biden echoes here — there’s something refreshing and optimistic about his candor. And if it’s something we need more of nowadays, it’s optimism.
Seth Meyers’ Donald Trump election recap
It’s taken a while for Seth Meyers to hit his stride, but he’s come into his own over the past year. Sure, there are a lot of options in the world of late-night, but “Late Night” has become a show worth paying attention to. Meyers seems at his best when he puts together a thoughtful response to the current events that matter — and as you can see from this list, they mostly revolved around Donald Trump.
In the above clip, Meyers didn’t just go for laughs but broke down his own personal reaction to the 2016 election. Referencing his mother and what a Clinton presidency would’ve meant for her, he admits to being at fault, like many others, in not believing a Trump presidency could happen. And setting aside white privilege, he acknowledges the uncertain future for those who may be impacted negatively by the incoming administration.
Tomi Lahren and Trevor Noah square off
Oh, how we’ve been waiting for Trevor Noah to step out of the shadow of John Stewart. And while he still has a way to go in truly finding his own identity and voice with “The Daily Show,” we saw a glimmer of hope with his interview with Tomi Lahren. The conservative personality from “The Blaze” has racked up a following on Facebook over the past few years with her brash, oppositional take on race and politics — and of course, those were the topics when she sat down with Trevor Noah.
What we didn’t get was a conversation that found understanding of either party’s belief system. But, that’s okay. Because what we did get was an engaging Noah who consistently took Lahren to task with a decent amount of calm respect. At the end of the day, no one was won over by the other side’s argument — but the conversation continued long after.
John Oliver explains Brexit
It’s the “John Oliver” signature: A deep dive segment that helps not only pick apart the timeline and facts — but also gives a more personal perspective on the story. With his own unique delivery of the news, Oliver gave us a segment that was equal parts educational and upsetting. Not content to just inform, Oliver’s passionate opinion of the then-pending vote was contagious, acting as a warning sign of the political ramifications on our side of the Pond — and, in retrospect, warning us about our own “Brexit”-esque future vote.
Samantha Bee’s post-election rant
Once Jon Stewart left “The Daily Show,” viewers wondered who would fill the void. And while Trevor Noah has taken over the Comedy Central series, it’s “Daily Show” alum John Oliver and Samantha Bee who have really stepped up to the plate — despite airing only once a week.
What Bee provides, in tone and analysis, is worth more than a week of most nightly programs: In a very male-dominated space, Samantha Bee has firmly planted herself in the world of late-night, leaving a strong mark from the start. Aside from Oliver, we can’t think of any other late-night host so continually delivering the thought-provoking goods with regards to today’s political and cultural landscape. Her above take on the 2016 election is just one example of her talent — and the importance of her voice.
Adele and James Corden go for some Carpool Karaoke
Through all this talk of politics, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention James Corden’s ever-popular “Late Late Show” segment, Carpool Karaoke. Who knew 2016 would be the year that pop stars singing in cars would be a thing people would clamor to time and again? But, as we previously stated, it’s been a rough year — sometimes all you want is to watch Justin Bieber performing a duet in traffic. More and more big name music stars have joined Corden in his signature segment. And while the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga have sat in for a musical ride through traffic, it’s Adele’s performance that really stands out for us. For obvious reasons.