Jon Stewart pushes lab leak theory to skeptical Stephen Colbert: 'The disease is the same name as the lab!'

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert made its triumphant return Monday to the Ed Sullivan Theater, in front of a full-capacity, fully vaccinated audience, welcoming Colbert's longtime friend, collaborator and former host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart as the first guest in the iconic venue in 15 months. While it made sense to discuss the pandemic that kept the theater empty all that time, Colbert seemed taken aback when Stewart revealed that he believes COVID-19 came from a lab in Wuhan, China, a popular talking point in conservative media.

“I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science,” Stewart said. “Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science.”

“Do you mean perhaps there’s a chance that this was created in a lab?” Colbert asked. “A chance?” Stewart replied. “There’s a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China, what do we do? Oh, you know, who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab. The disease is the same name as the lab! That’s just a little too weird!”

Stewart went on to repeat this line of thinking multiple times throughout the interview.

Chinese authorities have long rejected the lab leak theory, standing by the claim that the coronavirus came from bats. But Stewart isn’t buying it.

“There’s a coronavirus loose in Wuhan, how did that happen?” Stewart asked. “Maybe a bat flew into the cloaca of a Turkey and then it sneezed into my chili and now we all have coronavirus. Like, come on.”

But Colbert pushed back, offering a different point of view.

“It could be possible that they have the lab in Wuhan to study the novel coronavirus diseases,” Colbert said, “because in Wuhan there are a lot of novel coronavirus diseases because of the bat population there.”

Stewart later spoke about scientists, saying that they just don’t know when to quit. In fact, Stewart believes scientists will be responsible for the end of humanity.

“Here’s how I believe the world ends,” Stewart said. “I say this to you in sincerity… the world ends, the last words man utters are somewhere in a lab, a guy goes, ‘Huh-huh, it worked!’”

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

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