Late-Night Hosts React to Orlando Shootings with Sadness, Rage and Disbelief: 'It's Not Normal, and It Shouldn't Be Normal'
Trevor Noah, Andy Cohen, Samantha Bee and more hosts addressed the tragedy on their respective shows Monday
brightcove.createExperiences(); On Monday evening, late-night talk show hosts were tasked with addressing the tragedy of the Orlando nightclub shootings – the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Here’s a roundup of how the different hosts and comedians took on the topic, expressing everything from sadness to rage.
“I am the father of two, and I like to believe I have a shred of common sense and I simply do not understand why anybody in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi automatic assault rifle,” Conan O’Brien said. “These are weapons of war and they have no place in civilian life.”
Continued the host, “I do not know what the answer is, but I wanted to take just a moment here tonight to agree with the rapidly growing sentiment in America that it’s time to grow up and figure this out.”
Jimmy Fallon also brought up his concerns as a father, saying: “I, as a new father, am thinking: What do I tell my kids? What do I tell them about this? What can we learn from this? What if my kids are gay? What do I tell them?”
“We need to get back to being brave enough to accept that we have different opinions, and that’s okay,” he continued. “Because that’s what America is built on. The idea that we can stand up and speak our minds and live our lives and not be punished for that, or mocked on the Internet. Or killed by someone you don’t know.”
Samantha Bee could barely contain her rage in an NSFW speech.
“After a massacre, the standard operating procedure is that you stand on stage and deliver some well-meaning words about how we will get through this together, how love wins, how love conquers hate, and that is great – that is beautiful, but you know what? F— it. I am too angry for that,” she said. “Love does not win unless we start loving each other enough to fix our f—ing problems.”
Of gunman Omar Mateen, Bee referenced his background – his ex-wife has claimed he was abusive and he had been investigated by the FBI – before slamming the fact that he was still able to purchase weapons.
“None of these things disqualified him from legally buying a gun that shoots 45 rounds a minute – not even his terrible mirror selfies,” she said. “I think we can all agree that if you don’t have one friend to hold the phone for you, your lone wolf ass doesn’t get a gun.”
Seth Meyers opted to skip his opening monologue, jumping straight into the show instead, turning the conversation to gun control and noting that Mateen used the same weapon that has been used in previous mass shootings.
“This was an attack on LGBT people fueled by bigotry and hatred, and the shooter was apparently inspired by ISIS, but we’re going to talk about guns,” he said. “Because whether the shooter was a homophobe, mentally ill, a terrorist inspired by ISIS or all three, what allowed him to kill so many people on Sunday was his gun. And that means we’re likely about to enter yet another contentious national debate about gun control.”
“When given a chance, Congress consistently chooses nothing as a course of action,” he continued.
“Naturally, we each ask ourselves what can you possibly say in the face of this horror?” Stephen Colbert said. “But then sadly, you know what to say because it’s been said too many times before.”
“I think by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time. With nothing changing,” he continued. “It’s almost tempting to be paralyzed by such a monstrously hateful act, to despair, to say: ‘Well, that’s the way the world is now.’ Well, I don’t know what to do. But I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything.”
Concluded the host, “Love does not despair. Love makes us strong. Love gives the courage to act. Love gives us hope that change is possible. Love allows us to change the script.”
“So love your country, love your family, love the families and the victims and the people of Orlando. But let’s remember that love is a verb and to love means to do something.”
Noah went on to call attention to the developing pattern of mass shootings – and how the country reacts each time.
“The saddest part is every time this happens, it’s already decided,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of country it wants to be, because we know exactly how this plays out: We’re shocked, we mourn, we change our profile pics and then we move on. It’s normal. I’m sorry, maybe it’s because I’m new, but it’s not normal. And it shouldn’t be normal.”
“America needs to ask itself the question: Do you want to be a country that takes reasonable measures to protect its citizens, or should we tell the president to prepare speech number 17?” he concluded.
“So, people have no problem saying ‘gay’ when they’re against gay marriage, but they have to erase that part of their identity when they want to sympathize with them?” Wilmore said. “Sorry, no. Politicians will tell you this has been an attack on American freedom. But let’s be clear: It was first and foremost an attack on an American minority group.”
“Whether or not a Jihadi extremist was at the heart of this attack, this was an attack on gay safe spaces. But for those members of the LGBT community who feel scared, don’t stop singing, dancing or living,” he said. “We need to bring the vibrant love and joy of a gay club into the outside world, not bring the violent outside world’s hatred inside gay clubs.”
Andy Cohen also took a moment to address the shootings before starting his show.
“The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, like other gay clubs, was a place where people went to not just feel like they could freely be themselves, but to find community and safety,” he said. “To have that freedom shattered by the most deadly mass shooting in our country’s history is unfathomable.”
“This month is pride month for the LGBT community and as we have been so brutally reminded today, it’s about more than parties and parades. It’s also a celebration of our civil rights,” he continued. “There are people who wish we did not exist, but we do. And it is with a great deal of pride that this gay American is going to try to put a smile on your face at the end of a sad day in this clubhouse, where everyone is welcome and everyone is loved.”