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Mary Mazzoni headshot

Late-Night Television Hosts Bring Some Levity to Climate Week

Some of the top late-night hosts on television, including Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers, will devote their shows to discussing climate change on Wednesday, Sept. 22. 
By Mary Mazzoni
late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee

Late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee. (Image credit: Neil Grabowsky / Montclair Film via Wikimedia Commons)

As heads of state, business leaders and civil society organizers come together for Climate Week in New York, late-night television hosts have their own idea for pushing climate action forward. Some of the top late-night hosts on television, including Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers, will devote their shows to discussing climate change on Wednesday, Sept. 22. 

The shows participating in the cross-network Climate Night are: “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden” on CBS, "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on NBC, “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” on TBS, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC, and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” on Comedy Central, the New York Times reports.

Each will plan their own original programming focused on climate change and look to bring some humor to the conversation while building awareness among the public. 

Late-night hosts add some humor to Climate Week while building awareness for action

Although scientists agree we still have time to avoid the worst impacts if we act quickly, conversations about the climate crisis often devolve into a laundry list of reasons why the world is coming to an end.

Understandably, the doom and gloom takes its toll: People around the world are increasingly worried about the impacts climate change will have on their own lives, and psychologists are already reporting a link between concern about climate change and mental health issues, particularly in young people

Those looking for some levity in the Climate Week news cycle may find this push from late-night hosts is just what the doctor ordered. 

The event is the brainchild of Steve Bodow, a former showrunner at “The Daily Show” and Netflix’s “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj.” Bodow told the New York Times the event was organized to coincide with Climate Week and call attention to the subject by having late-night shows from across networks focus on it simultaneously.

“Climate change, obviously, is something we’re all dealing with,” he told the Times. “We’re all talking about it. We all need to be talking about it. What if these shows all talked about it at once? It makes a statement that they’re all willing to do this.”

While the impacts of climate change are surely no laughing matter, the concept was developed intentionally to bring some much-needed levity to a serious conversation while sharing information some viewers didn't have before. "Comedy is a great delivery system for actual information,” comedian Samantha Bee of “Full Frontal" told the Times. 

The bottom line: More awareness of climate change is always a good thing 

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, it is notoriously under-covered by mainstream media. Broadcast television nightly news and Sunday shows covered climate change for a total of 112 minutes in all of 2020, while morning news programs aired a combined 267 minutes of climate coverage last year, according to the nonprofit media watchdog Media Matters for America

With that perspective, this event from late-night hosts — which amounts to about 280 minutes of climate programming in a single night — is actually a pretty big deal. And given the influence these stars have on American life, their move to come together to build the conversation around climate action has the potential for outsized impact. 

"Late-night hosts reflect our national conversation even more than Russian Twitter bots set it," Bodow told CNN. "So this incredible group of shows coming together makes a statement about the scale and urgency of the world's hottest problem."

TriplePundit is tracking topics like this during Climate Week and in the lead-up to COP26 in Glasgow. Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the latest directly in your inbox. 

Image credit: Neil Grabowsky / Montclair Film via Wikimedia Commons

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni