The late-night hosts try to joke about Syria

Some comics attempt to distract audiences from Syria, while others tackle the issues head-on VIDEO

Topics: Video, Syria, late night television, late night talk shows, Bashar al-Assad, Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno,

The late-night hosts try to joke about Syria(Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The roller-coaster that is reality has given plenty of fodder for late night television hosts lately, from Miley twerking to Dennis Rodman returning to North Korea to James Franco’s existence. But as war looms in Syria, comedians are going to have to toe a tough line between acknowledging the seriousness of the issues in the Middle East while simultaneously distracting audiences from the news for a few minutes. Jokes dealing with Syria are making their way to late night television, though some hosts are using the news as entry points for safer jokes about race or pop culture.

Conan O’Brien commented on the situation by mocking President Obama’s reluctance to exert power without Congress: “Syria, that’s a serious situation. Syria’s leader Assad referred to President Obama as weak. Obama was so angry, he plans to ask Congress for permission to think of a good comeback.”

Letterman mostly avoided the issue, turning the joke into one about Charlie Sheen, instead:

Jimmy Fallon similarly deflected, making the punchline about race: “Of course the situation in Syria is on a lot of peoples’ minds right now. in fact, President Obama invited Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham to the White House yesterday to discuss the situation. He would have invited them today, but he didn’t want to break the ‘No whites after Labor Day’ rule:

Jay Leno opened with a jab at the President (“I was sweating like President Obama, looking for someone to go to war with”) and followed up with an Obamacare joke:

Craig Ferguson made a classic John McCain/Internet joke, after the Senator was caught playing poker on his iPhone during a Syria debate:

By the nature of his program, Stephen Colbert, of course, dealt with Syria head-on, easing into the political commentary with a Miley Cyrus joke (“President Obama wanted to drop Miley Cyrus on Damascus”) and gently mocking President Obama’s stance on crossing the red line. Colbert said, “The real story was about chemical weapons in Syria. The United States has no choice but to attack Syria because dictator Bashar al-Assad is killing his own people with chemical weapons. Before, he was just killing them with bullets. But if America cared about shooting people, we’d be invading Chicago.”

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Jon Stewart, who just returned from Jordan, devoted much of the show to the conflict in the Middle East — first with a comedic segment on Syria, then with an interview with Andrew Harper, head of the United Nations’ relief efforts in Jordan.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...