Pop Culture

Late-night hosts find bottomless well of jokes in government shutdown

Thousands of government workers were furloughed Tuesday, but comedy writers were working overtime. Just as on Monday night's shows, America's late-night hosts were quick to find the humor — and perhaps some money-making opportunities — in the national shutdown.

Stephen Colbert, host of "The Colbert Report" had a plan for taking advantage of the current lax government regulation. "No EPA?" he asked Tuesday night. "Time to dump some old house paint down the storm drain! ... Sorry dolphins! You had a good run!"

And with government workers such as FDA employees furloughed, Colbert pronounced himself ready to fill the power vacuum. "Just send me your drugs; I'll test them for you," offered Colbert, before sampling a staffer's birth-control pills. "I will let her know in 14 days if I ovulate!"

Colbert also filled one of the most-talked-about shutdown gaps, the loss of the National Zoo's panda cam, by ordering staffer Jay the Intern to don a panda suit and have his life filmed.

"How's the bamboo taste?" Colbert asked Jay, who wailed, "I lost a tooth!"

On "The Daily Show," Colbert's pal Jon Stewart said the shutdown gave Americans the "chance to celebrate the March of Dumbs." 

Stewart had fun rolling tape of various Fox News personalities dismissing the government shutdown as only a minor inconvenience. "How bad can it be if it doesn't personally affect Sean Hannity?" asked the host. "It’s not like they shut down [steak house] Smith & Wollensky for private events, I mean that would really be (expletive) up. Or closed our nation’s strategic flag-graphic reserves. Or if [Fox News president] Roger Ailes implemented a 'no grunting' policy in the Fox men's room."

Stewart got serious when Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes suggested that Democrats should gather "potted meat and Tang and get in your survival bunker." Having noted that one of the casualties of the shutdown was the WIC food and nutrition program for low-income mothers and babies, Stewart didn't find that joke funny.

"First of all, Democrats aren't the ones with survival bunkers, that's you guys," he said. "And second, I know that for you, potted meat and Tang is shorthand for [expletive] you wouldn't possibly imagine eating unless there was a catastrophe, but for the people actually affected by the government shutdown, it’s the [expletive] they eat that they can no longer afford."

Elsewhere on the late-night dial, "The Tonight Show's" Jay Leno asked his audience who was worried about the government shutdown, then asked how many people were more worried about it starting up again. "I am glad the government is shut down," he added. "For the first time in years it's safe to talk on the phone and send emails without anybody listening in!"

He also showed a filmed "news" story which provided alternative suggestions for tourists other than government-related destinations. "With the closure of the National Zoo, you can still see dangerous animals at a Raider(s) game," said the segment narrator. "The Library of Congress is closed, but nobody goes to the library anyway."

And on "Late Night," Jimmy Fallon said that there were reports that some members of Congress were caught drinking while they were debating the bill that could have avoided the government shutdown. "See, Congress is just like most Americans; they need to get drunk before they screw people," he noted.