The killing of Osama bin Laden presented late-night comics an opportunity, as well as a challenge: how do you satirize good news?
Jimmy Fallon (above), went the tried-and-true route of spoofing his network’s own programming, with a response to the news from “Donald Trump,” who complained that President Obama had deliberately interrupted Celebrity Apprentice. (“Where were you during The Paul Reiser Show, Mr. President?”)
For Comedy Central’s satire duo of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, news of bin Laden’s demise was more personal—particularly on Jon Stewart‘s show, whose longtime fans will still remember his pitch-perfect response to the 9/11 attacks on returning to the air. Stewart freely admitted that the news felt really good, and that he was too close to the subject to look at it impartially. Then he proceeded to mock the terrorist mercilessly, with a series of spoof chyrons (including “Death to Douchey”) that ran so long as if to say it was a shame bin Laden could only be killed once—if only for the sake of not wasting material:
On Conan, meanwhile, the news was at once well and badly timed. Monday was the scheduled payoff of the “Beardpocalypse” stunt that Conan O’Brien had been promoting for a while, with Will Ferrell showing up to do the honors. (Maybe it’s a sign that it’s time for Conan to move on from his bearded folk-hero image?) But O’Brien—who’s never been as strong on topical humor as on planned absurdity—seemed a bit out of step that night, considering that we’d just seen that much worse things can happen to a dude with a beard. Below, Ferrell does his best to draw out the parallel:
I will give him this, though: that is one clean, close shave. Osama should have been so lucky.