It's just not funny: Late-night hosts take on Franken accusations

Seth Myers on 'Late Night' took on harassment and hypocrisy.
Seth Myers on 'Late Night' took on sexual misconduct and hypocrisy by Congressional leaders on Thursday night.
NBC

With fellow comedian Sen. Al Franken in the headlines for sexual misconduct, late-night talk show hosts faced the question Thursday night of what to do when the accused is one of your own.

It was a question they already had to tackle, just last week, when stories of comedian Louis C.K.'s sexual misconduct was breaking news.

It's personal territory for many of the hosts. Stephen Colbert said he had long admired Franken; Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are fellow "Saturday Night Live" alums.

Franken briefly attempted to use comedy as a shield in his first apology for the now-infamous photo with a sleeping Leeann Tweeden: "As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."

He later added: "There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate."

America's late-night comedic consciences didn't let it go at that. (All of them, notably, are men. "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" only airs on Wednesdays.)

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces an increasing number of sexual harassment and assault claims, took the brunt of the comedians' attacks last night, but the Franken news fueled the question: Who's next?

'The Daily Show'

Trevor Noah, kicked off his show with a video of the Pope blessing a Lamborghini — but Franken was next for the roasting.

With the photo of Franken posing inappropriately over Tweeden on screen, Noah asked: "Al Franken? #YouToo?"

"He clearly thinks it's funny in that moment. She's not in on the joke. She's asleep.

To be honest, even if there wasn't a woman in that picture, that pose is its own crime.

If I saw Franken doing that in a supermarket, I'd be like, 'Hey, leave that fruit alone!' If I saw him in Italy, I'd be like: 'Get away from that tower, you creep! You okay, Pisa?'"

Noah reserved some of his contempt for the as-yet-unnamed photographer who snapped the picture, too:

"This story is another example how, at all levels, we men have been complicit in perpetuating the culture that devalues women.

I don't care who you are: Democrat, Republican, black, white, rich, poor. Men.

It's not just Al Franken in the picture. It's the guy taking the picture. His Billy Bush. Who's that guy?"

'The Late Show'

Stephen Colbert saved his first jab Thursday night for Roy Moore. His first skit included a man dressed as the devil, rejecting Moore from Hell.

But Colbert, like Noah, had a question: "Et tu, Franken?"

"Every day, it seems like we find out about another high-profile sexual harasser, and today is no exception. Brace yourself, because it's Sen. Al Franken. ...

C'mon Franken! I guess there are no good people left. Let's just get it over with! Just tell us whatever you did, Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama. Tom Hanks. Malala."

Colbert ran through Tweeden's accusations of how Franken forced her into a kiss as "practice" for a skit they were to perform.

"Now for those of you not in show biz," Colbert said. "Actors call that technique 'sexual harassment.'"

'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'

Host Jimmy Kimmel gave Franken the longest reprieve of the evening, skewering president Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Roy Moore before he showed the photo of Franken posing over Tweeden.

Kimmel made a quick quip about her flak jacket before moving on.

'The Tonight Show'

Jimmy Fallon opened his show with the news about Franken, but honed in on the harassment accusations that have followed Trump into the White House.

"It's so bad, Franken's already a front-runner for president," he said.

'Late Night'

Finally, host Seth Meyers didn't shy from the Franken news on his show, but took a swipe at a different target.

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for an ethics investigation into accusations that Sen. Al Franken sexually assaulted a woman in 2006.

Because McConnell absolutely will not stand for sexual harassment...by Democrats."

Meyers later went further, condemning the photo of Franken posing over Tweeden.

"That is horrifying. And she's wearing army gear because it's a USO tour, but honestly, who could blame women if they started wearing military gear whenever they're around men?

'Where are you going in a helmet and a flak jacket?'

'The subway.'"

James Corden, host of "The Late Late Show," was the only major show host not to take on Franken in his monologue Thursday night.

Franken's comedy alma mater, "Saturday Night Live," will be hosted by Chance the Rapper this weekend. It remains to be seen if the show will respond to the accusations surrounding its politically successful alum.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.