If David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon crack wise and no one's around to laugh, are they still funny? It turns out ... yes, very!
With a massive storm approaching and New Yorkers being either evacuated or encouraged to stay in their homes, the "Late Show" and "Late Night" taped Monday afternoon without audiences. (Maybe Letterman and Fallon should have tweeted their monologues, however -- thousands of East Coasters had lost power by the time the shows aired and local newscasts were providing constant storm coverage.)
"We're in the middle of Hurricane Sandy and we have no studio audience," Letterman kicked off his monologue, before the storm had been reclassified, "but we do have quite a show for you tonight. Thank you for joining us in the Ed Sullivan Shelter."
He informed the, er, Paul Schaffer that Sandy was being tagged "one of the worst storms in U.S. history," and that experts were expecting 90 mile-per-hour winds and 12 inches of rain. Landfall was expected in Delaware and New Jersey at high tide, aided by the full moon.
"If I were home, I'd be boarding up your television sets, because this is the stuff that's gonna hurt somebody," Letterman deadpanned. (Among the Top 10 Rejected Names for the Storm: Al Frankenstorm, Trumpical Storm, Wetzilla, iPaddle and Oprah Windy.)
Soon after, unstoppable guest Denzel Washington showed up clad in a yellow rain slicker, as if he'd trudged through the streets of New York to be there.
"Only for you, Dave," the "Flight" star said. "I swam."
Asked if he had ever been in a hurricane before, Washington cracked, "Once, with Noah."
Fallon, meanwhile, ventured outside 30 Rock himself to do a cold (probably, quite literally) open.
"I'm hoping, if you're watching, you are at home, you're safe, you're warm.... But we're here," he added. Guest/storm troopers Seth Meyers, Padma Lakshmi, Robert Zemeckis and the band Imagine Dragons all made it, too. (Yes, it sounds like Fallon managed to get more guests than usual in the midst of a hurricane-powerful tropical storm.)
Slamming home the magnitude of the possible natural disaster looming outside, the camera panned to the nonexistent crowd (well, except for Mets bucket-hat guy) watching Fallon's monologue.
"Theater owners had to cancel all Broadway shows today," he said. "Many performers were having trouble making it into the city. You could tell by that one show, 'Blue Man Guy.'"
But Fallon and Letterman persevered. In repeats tonight, however, are the similarly New York-set "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report," as well as "Jimmy Kimmel Live" -- which tapes in L.A. but just happens to be in New York this week for a special run.
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