"Late Show With Stephen Colbert" Canceled Amid Coronavirus Concerns
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert is on hiatus until at least Mar. 30 due to coronavirus.
On Thursday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the city after confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped from 42 to 95 in 24 hours. The streets emptied out, Broadway shut down, and Stephen Colbert announced that The Late Show would be going off the air beginning next week due to coronavirus.
"We have a new show tonight with no audience, but we cancelled next week's shows before our scheduled break," Colbert tweeted Thursday night. "I wish I could stay on stage to share this uncertain moment with you, but I don't do this show alone, and I have to do what's best for my staff. Hope to be back soon."
The announcement came in the midst of an eerie episode of The Late Show on Thursday night, in which the talk show host sipped whiskey while performing in front of virtually no audience.
"As you may have noticed, none of you are here right now," Colbert said at the start of the show. "Only people in the audience right now are some members of my staff."
Colbert explained that all of the New York City late night shows were planning on filming without audiences starting on Monday. But, due to the rapidly changing nature of events, they were told just a few hours before the show that they would be going without an audience Thursday night.
Colbert tried to keep spirits light by continuing to make jokes to a smattering of applause from his staffers. But he also reflectively summed up the uncertainty that many people feel right now: "You don't want to be part of the hysteria, but, on the other hand, you want to act with an abundance of caution."
For his last show—for now—Colbert's guest was fittingly CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, who was one of the first to call coronavirus a pandemic. When Colbert asked, "How worried should we be?" Gupta offered a comforting response.
"For the majority of people, this is not going to be something that's going to make them tremendously ill," he said. "It might make them sick for a few days. They're likely to recover."
Gupta added that the things you should be doing—washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and maintaining social distancing—are not just for your own good, but for the good of others and their family members, especially older individuals and those with pre-existing conditions.
"We are codependent on each other in a way that I've never seen before. There's an obligation now," Gupta said. "If not for me, if I don't engage in these good behaviors for me, then I should do it for you. I should do it for the people around me and I think, hopefully, that's motivating for people to do this. Individual behaviors make such a big difference here. I don't think people get it yet, but I think people will get this, Stephen."
Also on Thursday, NBC announced that The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers would be suspending production for at least two weeks. Meanwhile, CBS said that The Late Show would be on hiatus until at least Mar. 30.