On Sept. 17, 2001, when David Letterman and the Late Show returned after the events of 9/11 shook the world, there was a live audience waiting for him in the Ed Sullivan theatre.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, today’s late-night hosts have been unable to return to their familiar studios, fans and crews. Instead, they have found ways to adapt while continuing to provide camaraderie, comedy and even comfort to their audiences by broadcasting from their homes, substituting family members and hand-drawn signs in place of live audiences and polished graphics.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Stay-at-home set: Kids playsets, lemonade cart, reading nook
The former Saturday Night Live performer inherited the talk show once hosted by Johnny Carson. But it’s hard to imagine Carson letting viewers into his abode the way Fallon has. The current The Tonight Show host was one of the first to return on-air, with handheld camera work from his wife Nancy and featuring his two pint-size co-hosts, daughters Winnie and Fanny. Like any Dad adjusting to the stay-at-home lifestyle, Fallon often tries to get his kids involved, in this case providing drawings and cue cards.
While Fallon was known for his sometime’s fawning interview style, with the homemade broadcasts he has traded in elaborate celebrity singalongs and game competitions for chummy video calls with pals Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.