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Colbert and Fallon deal with uncomfortable silence as coronavirus keeps audiences at home

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It was a strange lineup of late night shows on Thursday as most shows filmed with no live audience other than their crew. It was announced on Wednesday that all late night shows filming in New York would film without a studio audience in an effort to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. But on Thursday, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon announced in a tweet it would be stopping production until March 30 to protect the staff, crew and guests, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert canceled all of next week’s shows ahead of a previously scheduled break. And based on how the shows went Thursday night, though entertaining in an awkward sort of way, they probably made the right choice.

Fallon tried to get through it but seemed genuinely irritated by the virtual silence that followed each punchline, and even The Roots were off their game.

About 10 minutes into The Late Show, Colbert just seemed to check out. In fact, they aired the rehearsal.

After a joke that would have normally shown a graphic and gotten a laugh had no graphic and no laugh, Colbert said, “This is rehearsal, but I think this is what we actually show people.” He followed that with, “They’re going to be really surprised when I walk out of the building in a half hour.”

Meanwhile, over on Jimmy Kimmel Live, former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg guest-hosted, and though he also had almost no audience to speak of, the people at Kimmel had a backup plan. After some of Buttigieg’s jokes, clips were shown of audiences cheering from a presidential address, the Oscars and a basketball game.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.

Jimmy Kimmel Live airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on ABC.

Check out the best moments from Pete Buttigieg’s guest host stint on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’:

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