Welcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. If you’re interested in hearing from The Times regularly about great TV, sign up for our Watching newsletter and get recommendations straight to your inbox.
‘Just Give Trump the Wall’
President Trump lobbied for a border wall in his nationally televised speech Tuesday night. The wall is his one precondition for reopening the government, which has been shut since Dec. 22. If Congress doesn’t bend to his demand, Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency.
The move would give his office vast new powers; the Constitution is not clear on what limits those powers might have. Researchers in recent days have pointed out that in a national emergency the president could shut down communications between citizens, or dispatch troops within the country.
Trevor Noah likened Trump to the infant character in “The Incredibles,” who becomes dangerous as he discovers his supernatural powers.
“Thanks to Trump, we’ve learned that during an actual emergency a president can do much more than build a wall. He can just shut down your internet, send the troops in. He can just control the country. So if I’m the Democrats, I would just give Trump the wall before he finds out what he can really do. I know it sounds crazy, but right now, he’s like the baby from ‘The Incredibles.’ He only knows that he can float. We do not want him finding out that he can shoot lasers out of his eyes.” — TREVOR NOAH
Colbert on Trump’s ‘Air Bud Scenario’
Calling Trump’s speech “my warm-up act tonight,” a chagrined Stephen Colbert pointed out that the Constitution is very loose in its definition of an emergency.
Along the way, Colbert got to do one of his favorite things: Equate Trump with a dog.
“Unfortunately the act offers no definition of ‘emergency.’ We’re in what legal scholars call ‘an Air Bud scenario.’ Yeah, there ain’t nothing in the rule book that says a golden retriever can’t declare martial law.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
The Punchiest Punchlines (Praying Mantis Edition)
“This week the White House was caught several times making up statistics about the border situation. In response, Trump said, ‘That is a lie and 150 percent of people agree with me.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“A Virginia woman’s home was filled with over 100 praying mantises over the holidays after the bugs hatched in her Christmas tree. ‘So Santa did get my letter!’ said her weird kid.” — SETH MEYERS
“A cat that went missing from its owner in Michigan for over two months was recently found over 1,000 miles away in Florida. Or, some cats look the same.” — SETH MEYERS
The Bits Worth Watching
Colbert found a way to use a dozen beer brands in a short monologue about the shutdown’s effect on beer production.
Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel swooped in once again to save Seth Meyers from his own offensive jokes.