Stephen Colbert hosted a live “Late Show” Tuesday night to follow President Donald Trump’s first formal address to the joint session of Congress ― a State of the Union–esque speech for first-year presidents.
As Colbert explained the situation during his monologue: “Now, technically, this was not a ‘State of the Union’ ... because I think, in this timeline, the Confederacy won.”
But yesterday was also Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday ― the gluttonous and celebratory holiday on the eve of Lent, the period of time leading to Easter that many who practice Christianity observe. During the 40 days of Lent, Christians (such as Colbert) can choose to give up specific things (like sugar, or Facebook) and temporarily sacrifice experiencing personal pleasures.
During the show, Colbert asked bandleader Jon Batiste whether he was giving anything up. The musician responded that he wasn’t.
“I think I might,” Colbert then said. “I’m thinking about giving up hope. It’s either that or alcohol ... and one of them’s got to go.”
Directly before this segment, Colbert had been joking about his frustrations over the White House in the monologue. But to make it even more clear that his lack of “hope” was Trump-based, the host transitioned right back into going after the president.
“Speaking of Mardi Gras, I’ve got some beads here,” Colbert said to the audience to much excitement. “And just in case Donald Trump is watching ― Show us your taxes! Show us your taxes!”
Colbert began throwing the bead necklaces toward the audience, playing off a Mardi Gras tradition of throwing beads to encourage partiers to take off their shirts.
One necklace miraculously hooked onto the camera and dangled in front of the lens. “Legally, he has to now,” Colbert joked.
The host didn’t just go after Trump — Colbert also made fun of the Democrats’ rebuttal speech to the joint Congress address. The Democrats had tapped former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who had success implementing a version of Obamacare in his state, to speak.Yet the choice of location for Beshear’s speech was bizarre, to say the least.
Colbert described that Beshear “spoke from your normal, relatable, everyday diner where everyone faces the same direction in terrified silence.” On Twitter, a reporter similarly pointed out that the scene looked like the director David Lynch (”Twin Peaks,” “Eraserhead”) had set it up.
Governor Beshear also had a particularly strange line meant to show inclusivity within the Democratic party, but instead came across as cringeworthy.
“I’m a proud Democrat, but first and foremost, I’m a proud Republican and Democrat and mostly American,” said Beshear in his speech.
“I’m also a man but first and foremost I’m a woman and a man and mostly human and a dog ... ruff ruff,” Colbert mocked. “’Who’s a good boy?’ I am.”
Colbert continued, “Showing a retired politician from a darkened cafeteria reinforced the Democrats’ central message for 2017 ... [whispering] ‘Please don’t tell them where we’re hiding.’”