After a long five months, late-night talk shows are back, and the many late-night hosts seem excited to get back on the air.
Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers made their long-awaited returns to their respective shows on Monday, celebrated the end of the strike and praised their writers in hilarious, joyful and heartfelt monologues.
The returns come following the WGA reaching a deal with the AMPTP last week after the longest writers’ strike in decades. However, with the SAG-AFTRA strike still ongoing, the shows had to get a bit creative with their bookings.
Here’s a look at how the famed late-night hosts handled their comebacks after the long and financially challenging hiatus.
Fallon’s return to the air — following a tumultuous past few weeks — blended his trademark goofy comedy with some genuine emotion.
The host shared a message of solidarity with his writers, sharing, “I just want to say I’m so happy all the writers finally got their fair deal that they deserved. You got to hand it to them, only writers would spend all summer fighting to go back to the office.”
“Yeah it took five months to reach the deal. The stalemate finally ended when the studios realized ‘We’ve gotta end this now or it’s another three months of watching Suits!”
Fallon also quipped, “It was kind of weird coming back after being gone for five months. The studio was empty for so long, NBC converted it to a Spirit Halloween.”
After his monologue, Fallon took a seat behind his desk — which he embraced in a big hug — and got a little somber and emotional talking about how much the show means to him.
But I had a lot of time. Five months was a lot of time to really just sit and think you know and I finally just took a moment, and I just realized how grateful I am for all of this and for this show
“Oh, it feels good to be back!” Colbert began Monday’s monologue, to a rousing cheer from the sizable audience. “It feels good to be with all of you again here in the Ed Sullivan theater, because after the first few months of the strike, [my wife] Evie refused to keep chanting my name.”
“But now the writers’ strike is over with a new contract that includes protections against A.I., cost-of-living increases, better pay, better pay for streaming. Plus, thanks to the picket lines, my writers got fresh air and sunshine — and they do not care for that,” Colbert said. “Now they are back safely in their joke holes doing what they do best, making my prompter word-screen full of good and ha-ha.”
Colbert continued, “It’s been a long time since our last Late Show. We looked at the calendar today and, check my math on this, I believe we have been off the air for 154 indictments. Is that right? It was a crazy summer to be off.”
However, he doubled up his monologue length to be able to cover all the biggest news bullet points from their time on hiatus.
For his big return, Kimmel got some help from some famous friends — including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played his psychiatrist in a pre-taped intro and assured Kimmel that he will “be back,” in an adorable reference to Schwarzenegger’s iconic film line.
When Kimmel took the stage, it was being used by four people playing pickleball, and Kimmel explained, “Apparently while we were gone, they’ve been renting out our studio as a pickleball court.”
After telling the four they had to leave, Kimmel joked, “Try James Corden’s studio, he moved to England.”
“You know that the weirdest thing about being off the air is? When I walk in a room, nobody claps,” Kimmel joked during his monologue. “So it’s really great to be back.”
The Late Night host took a somewhat more candid approach, interspersing some jokes with a message of genuine gratitude and appreciation.
“I wanted to take a moment to say how grateful I am to be back here with you tonight. I never take this show for granted. But being away from it for as long as I’ve been away from it really hits home how much I love having this as a workplace,” Meyers shared. “I would like to thank some people. I would like to thank the WGA negotiating committee, the guild leadership for all the time they put in, all the personal time they sacrificed to be in the room negotiating for the very fair deal that all the writers deserved.”
“I am so happy. I am so happy to be back in a room with my writers, everybody. I missed my writers so much. I was so happy — so happy to see them this morning. I will admit by lunch I was a little over it,” he quipped. “They’re really talented. They just have a ton of opinions, you know? They’re always like, ‘Maybe it will be funnier if you said it like that.’ It’s not how I say it. Stop blaming it on how I say it.”
“I’d like to thank my family. I know it was not easy to have me around for five months,” he continued. “I’ll never forget the day this summer where my 7-year-old came up to me and said, ‘Not only do I not care what Rudy Giuliani did today, I’m not going to care what he does tomorrow.’ And while I hear that, I do feel like he’s missing out.”