Hurricane Sandy has left a path of wet, windy destruction up and down the East Coast, causing at least 16 deaths, unprecedented flooding and leaving millions without power.
It also forced Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to take the night off and Jimmy Kimmel to hold off on the first night of his planned week of shows from Brooklyn.
But two of late night’s stalwarts soldiered on, taping shows without audiences even as the superstorm began. “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” each took to the air with celebrity-packed editions.
Fallon opened his show outside Radio City Music Hall wearing a raincoat, as the whipping wind whistled around his microphone. “I’m hoping, if you’re watching, you are at home, you’re safe, you’re warm. We sent our audience home so that they could be safe and warm, But we’re here,” he said.
Walking in the lobby of his building talking to a rain-spattered camera, Fallon made his way into the studio while announcing the impressive line-up of guests, including Seth Meyers, celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi, director Robert Zemeckis and rockers Imagine Dragons.
Opening his monologue, the camera panned to the empty seats as his jokes were greeted by sparse applause from the crew and house band the Roots. “I’m assuming that people at home will be watching either on their laptops or they’re getting their generators out and they’re gonna want to see … I want to leave room to laugh,” Fallon said after announcer Steve Higgins ribbed the host that he was performing as if a live, clapping audience were in the house.
“We’re in the middle of Hurricane Sandy and we have no studio audience,” Letterman said during the opening of his monologue to an empty room. “But we do have quite a show for you tonight. Thank you for joining us in the Ed Sullivan Shelter.”
After some chit-chat with band leader Paul Schaffer about the severity of the storm, Letterman warned, “If I were home, I’d be boarding up your television sets, because this is the stuff that’s gonna hurt somebody.”
The night’s obligatory top 10 list (presented on cue cards because the graphics guy couldn’t make it in) included the Top 10 Rejected Names For The Storm, which included: Trumpical Storm, Al Frankenstorm, iPaddle, Power Outage Palooza, Oprah Windy, The New ’Hurricane Loco’ From Taco Bell and Wetzilla.
Letterman wasn’t alone, as “Flight” star Denzel Washington made it in wearing a yellow rain coat, joking that he did it for Dave. “I swam,” he said.