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.
"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. Licht also said he Colbert and his team prepped three different versions of the show that they can switch out based on what's happening, since results were not in at his start time of 11 p.m. ET.
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."
The show continued to run longer than its planned hour (not wrapping until 20 minutes after midnight), as Colbert addressed the worried audience and nation.
"I think we can agree this has been an absolutely exhausting election - we all feel how Giuliani looks," he said. "Everybody's going to be saying, 'Has America lost it's mind?' and the answer's going to be: Back off buddy, we've got 300 million guns and we are stressed out."
He then continued with a needed message: "Everybody feels that way. More than half of Democrats say the Republican party makes them afraid. Both sides are terrified of the other side. I think that's why the voting booth has a curtain, so you can hide. How did our politics get so poisonous? I think we overdosed. You take a little of the poison so you can hate the other side. And it tastes good and you enjoy the other side and you know you're right."
Speaking about those who designed our democracy, Colbert said they "designed an election that was meant to confuse us and bore us a bit." Adding, "Now politics is everywhere and that takes up precious brain space we could be using to think about all the things we have in common."
He encouraged those listening to keep their American flag up as they put away their "I voted" stickers. He then listed out a few light-hearted things to bring everyone together before making the audience stand to their feet to kiss a Democrat and hug a Replublican.
"Let's agree we never have another election like the one we just had," he said. "The election is over, you survived. Goodnight and may god bless America."
After his signoff, Colbert stuck around to address the audience once the cameras stopped rolling.
"I meant what I said. I wasn't just trying to be a positive person. It's a beautiful country, we're all going to be alright."
He then thanked the crowd for being there.