Late-night comedians reacted to Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon with a lament that’s become all-too familiar: How can we come out here and make you laugh, they asked, when it’s been such a tragic day in America?
Craig Ferguson noted that he didn’t feel comfortable leading off his show with a six-word sentence he is proud to say every other night: “It’s a great day for America.” On Monday night, he refrained from saying it.
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“Tonight’s show is a little bit different obviously,” Ferguson said, opening his “Late Late Show” on CBS. “The news of today is so horrendous that it would seem insensitive at best to say, ‘It’s a great day for America.’ So I won’t be starting the show with that tonight.”
Indeed, the “Ferguson” show also dispensed with its usual opening titles and exuberant theme song Monday night. “Is anyone else sick of this [expletive deleted]?” Ferguson said wearily while seated at his desk for this opening segment. “I seem to have to say that too often. I have to not say, ‘It’s a great day for America’ because of some random act of madness or terrorism.”
“People say to me, ‘Craig, your job is to make people laugh at the end of the day,’ and yes, that’s true but … I can’t not think about [the tragedy]. You know, the deal I made with you when I started this show was that, you know, I’ll be as honest as I can be. So I have to be honest. We’ll do the best show we can do. We’ll have some laughs. We’ll do what we do, to a degree, but this is on my mind. I can’t pretend it’s not there.”
Ferguson was one of several late-night hosts who were at work Monday night and in position to comment on the day’s events. Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon were in repeats Monday night.
But on ABC, Jimmy Kimmel was at work, and he opened his show with remarks that were somewhat similar to Ferguson’s, particularly when he noted that his “job” is to make people laugh, but that, on a day like this one, his job was not easy to do.
“I don’t want to bring everyone down, but it was a terrible day, very bad things happened today for no good reason,” Kimmel said before launching into his opening monologue on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“Our thoughts are with the people of Boston and everyone who is suffering as a result of the bombings at the marathon,” Kimmel said. “It’s a disgusting thing. I don’t understand it, but my job is to make you laugh. And so I’ll try to do that.” He then launched into a series of jokes about tax returns, which were due on Monday.