Stephen Colbert is ready to soothe a weary electorate with the medicine of laughter.
The Late Show host, whose nightly CBS show was preempted Tuesday for ongoing coverage of the election results, instead brought his act to CBS' premium cable sister channel Showtime for a one-hour special entitled Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going To Clean Up This Sh*t?
As results for the presidential election began rolling in Tuesday night, defying pollsters with Trump's electoral vote lead - and sending Hollywood into a panic - Colbert's warm-up comic Paul Mercurio appeared at 10:30 p.m. ET to pump up a crowd who had been glued to their iPhones and the updating results. He called out nervous members in the audience, even asking, "What are you, f - ing dead inside?" The audience then jumped to their feet when the band began to play, the show promising a longer cold open than normal followed by opening credits and then the host himself.
Much to the crowd's surprise, Colbert then stepped out to say: "It's going to be a lot of fun, a little nervewracking, but a lot of fun." The dome presented the current electoral college standings, causing the crowd to grown over Florida's missing results. "Calm down, it's still early," said Colbert. "There's no need for crying. The evening is early. We're going to be together for a long time. I'm going to lock the door and we're going to stay in here."
When asked how nervous he is, the host replied, "I've done this a bunch. I did this in 2000 with Bush Gore so I'll tell you in 32 days."
The show's cold open then began to roll, a dark animated comedy of a vengeful Trump wanting revenge after President Barack Obama's takedown of the GOP nominee during the State Dinner - and he does so by winning the election. "No more Mexicans, no more Muslims, no more losers," he screams five years in the future.
Meanwhile at Trump HQ... #ColbertElectionSHO pic.twitter.com/zCi3lwAgqX
- The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) November 9, 2016
"You don't need to stand for me you don't need to chant for me. America doesn't have dictators... yet," the host said while introducing himself as Stephen "f - ing" Colbert. "What a year tonight has been? Right now the election is too close to call and too terrifying to contemplate." He then asked the crowd if they were on edge about the "passport-grabber" of a night, to which they replied with a resounding: YES!
During his monologue, Colbert recounted the biggest moments of the day amid the buzzing uncertainty. Of Trump being caught spying on Melania's ballot, he joked: "It's the first time Trump has been caught cheating off one of his wives instead of on one of his wives." He then aired a clip reel of uncensored curses from Late Show. (Colbert's monologue is streaming live via the channel's Facebook page, below.)
As suggested by the title, Colbert, who often pokes fun at CBS' censorship, had indicated ahead of the special that he'll take advantage of the ability to swear on Showtime, with showrunner Chris Licht teasing to The Hollywood Reporter that there may also be some display of full-frontal nudity.
Colbert told the audience he is indeed bringing nudity back, "Boobs, butts and diddly bits which can only be shown for artistic integrity."
Jeff Goldblum was the first of his many promised guests to appear, explaining away Trump's win with a "chaos theory."
"The GOP took a hardened chunk of amber with prehistoric ideas and created a monster," said the actor. "They thought they could keep him contained but didn't count for hundreds of millions of things that could go wrong. The GOP were so preoccupied with if they could create a candidate didn't think if they should--now destroying everything in his path including Republican party."
Colbert continued to joke away the results, which he updated his cell phone-less audience with. "Right now the only thing tighter than the race in Florida is my sphincter," he said. The audience uttered an audible and collective sigh when Colbert said Trump took Ohio.
Of Trump losing his home state of New York, Colbert said the GOP nominee is fine with Clinton winning 29 electoral votes because "he never wants anything over 25." It appeared the comedian had prepped jokes for each state, rattling them off as he announces that Trump has won Nebraska and North Carolina and Clinton, Vermont.
Without any commercial breaks, Colbert aired pre-taped ads throughout the show, the first a Nick Offerman ad for Schmitt's yard signs. After the first "break," he brought out The Circus' Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, serving them double Old Fashioneds as they informed the audience of the shocking news that Trump was, at the moment, the narrow frontrunner. The audience gasped when told Trump was ahead in both Wisconsin and Michigan --if he wins both, he's president, the pair said of "the compounding of all of the craziness."
Calling Trump's electoral vote potential a "horrifying prospect," the pair agreed that the aftermath of a Trump win is going to be a "challenging" time for America.
"Outside of the Civil War, World War II and including 9/11 this may be the most cataclysmic event our country has seen," said Halperin, adding that Clinton will be under pressure to challenge the results.
Laura Benanti then revisited her impression of Melania Trump, via faux satellite. "I've always said, I will survive, we didn't start the fire, yo quiero Taco Bell." She thanked Vladmir Putin for his vision "driving the whole campaign," as well as "Jeb and his cousin Billy Bush." She thanked Ivanka Trump, saying she's like a "slightly older sister."
It's the apocalypse. Give us your steeliest looks. #ColbertElectionSHO pic.twitter.com/HTAkPyn7hx
- The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) November 9, 2016
Colber then welcomed Goldblum back and to the couch, saying his movies aren't nearly as scary as the election. Continuing the vibe of the show, Goldblum was too distraught to make light in the moment.
"I can't believe it. I'm in shock," said the Independence Day actor. "Horrible things will happen to me, all of us. That's the best thought I can think of. Maybe something worse than this will happen to us."
Next up, Elle King performed "America's Sweetheart" and Colbert welcomed back Halperin along with Charlamagne tha God and Jena Friedman, the latter two who were especially angered and distraught over the current results. At the time, they cited Clinton of having a five percent chance of winning.
"Well, congratulations America you f - ked this one up," said the radio presenter. When Colbert explained that this show is about feelings tonight, Friedman replied, "I feel like I'm about to give birth to a baby that's already dead." She then added, "It feels like an asteroid has smashed into our democracy. I wish I could be funny. Get your abortions now."
Colbert replied with a serious answer, saying, "This is a moment for people to understand political involvement is a responsibility. You can opt out of voting but you can't opt out of lack of action. If this is the effects, people who didn't vote will see effects of lack of action."
In attempt to find some light amid the dire mood, Colbert said, "I believe the American people made a choice that they beleive will help their lives and everyone is entitled to make that decision, whether or not you agree with that."
He's expected to welcome a number of special guests including Katy Perry, Colbert's fellow Daily Show alum Larry Wilmore, Patton Oswalt, Nick Offerman and Laura Benanti, who's previously played Melania Trump on Colbert's Late Show.
Colbert will also be joined by Mark Halperin, John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon from the Showtime documentary series The Circus. Licht indicated to THR that the Circus trio would provide "political analysis."
Colbert previously told CBS This Morning that in light of Showtime's lack of commercials, his team has made some of their own ads, featuring some special guests, that they'll air to give themselves a few breaks throughout the show.
While the race was not ready to be called at 11 p.m. ET, right when Colbert's show began, Licht had said he hoped Colbert and his team, who prepped three different versions of the show that they can switch out based on what's happening, would know the results by the start of the show.