How late-night handled the Boston tragedy
April 16th, 2013
12:36 PM ET

How late-night handled the Boston tragedy

When tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings happen, late-night hosts have to find ways to carry on - or not - with shows that are meant to be lighthearted. How do you crack jokes on a day when nothing seems funny?

On Monday night, following the blasts that killed three and wounded more than 100 others, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and Conan O'Brien each approached that question in their own way.

O'Brien began his show, "Conan," with a personal note, mentioning right off the bat "what an upsetting and sad day it has been."

"Boston's my hometown – it’s where I grew up, it’s where my family lives. So I wanted to take a moment to say that, like everybody here, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and everybody who's been affected by this senseless act."

That said, he continued, "it is our job to do a show. We’re going to try and entertain you the very best we can. Which, given our track record, gives you people a 20 percent chance of having a good show tonight."

On ABC, Kimmel took the same stance, acknowledging the difficulty in attempting to produce entertainment after the horror that the nation had just witnessed.

"Well, it was a terrible day. Very bad things happened today for no good reason - and our thoughts are with the people of Boston and everyone who is suffering as a result of the bombings at the marathon," Kimmel said. "It’s a disgusting thing. I don't understand it. But my job is to make you laugh and so I will try to do that. And - I will probably fail. I’m failing already."

On "The Late Late Show," Craig Ferguson seemed to speak the most for everyone when he opened his show with, "is anyone else sick of this?"

"Tonight's show is a little bit different," Ferguson began. "Obviously, the news of today is so horrendous that it would seem insensitive at best to say, 'it's a great day for America,' so I won't be starting the show with that tonight. Is anyone else sick of this s***? I seem to have to say that too often, I have to not say that it's a great day in America for some random act of madness, or terrorism."

Ferguson, too, has history with Boston, as he has family there, his first stand-up special in America was filmed there, and he also spoke at the city's Faneuil Hall on Independence Day after becoming an American citizen in 2008.

"People say to me, Craig, your job is to make people laugh at the end of the day. And yes, I think that's true," he continued. "But I've never professed to be any damn good at that. ... I don't think it's a terrible thing to not want to think about it, but I can't not think about it."

The day's events, he said, were on his mind - and he couldn't pretend otherwise. "I'm not one of those people - I'm not a valuable, quality entertainer," he quipped, as the audience chuckled.

Filed under: Late Night comedy • television

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soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. dry scalp remedies

    Late night host should follow some remedies to get rid of his dandruff hahaha.‎

    May 10, 2013 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |

    you never prove us wrong at how BI POLAR YOU TRULY ARE....


    May 3, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. how to be funny

    Late night obviously followed these tips:
    But seriously hopefully everyone will remember those that tragically died in this horrific incident and we pray it shall never happen again.

    May 3, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. molly

    Please help get up to at least 50 buyers for a Boston Strong shirt so that all earnings will go to The One Fund Boston, Inc. to help the people most affected by Monday's tragedy!:

    B Strong!

    April 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mrmew55

    Aren't you all missing the point – the point is that Craig Ferguson get's ignored by everybody when he is the only one with talent and, most importantly, with humanity and class. Did you idiots not read the article?

    April 18, 2013 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. techteam49

    i have said this for 7 months....Conan is a dud

    April 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      That's how I feel about Jay Leno, never found him funny. I don't understand how people actually watch that guy for more than 30 seconds without changing the channel. Conan and Chris Furguson I find hilarious. Everyone has their own taste I guess

      April 17, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hugh Jass

    I can assure you that they handled it better than CNN commenters have.

    April 17, 2013 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • jocelyn sophia

      join me, in posting daily on my facebook, a call to all world leaders to dismantle all bombs, nuclear and otherwise.

      Jocelyn Sophia, Global University, West Philly, USA

      April 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      University students know how to use commas. You're about ninth grade. Also, dismantling all bombs is an incredibly childish idea. Maybe the sixth grade?

      April 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Snap!!!


    April 17, 2013 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. JoannaTrouble


    April 17, 2013 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • pete

      This is not a reply to Joanna.
      JUst want to say that we got first-hand view and comments from jam, and no one replies to that?
      Well, I guess you're enjoying dissing one another, more than you wish to write about the tragedy. I'm done with this site.

      April 17, 2013 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JoannaTrouble

      agreed...we are all leaving the site

      April 17, 2013 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. David is the Star---YAY

    Conan we can do without.

    April 17, 2013 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. conan ewwwwwww

    April 17, 2013 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ok

    Why be speaking so mean!

    April 17, 2013 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. Nothing wrong

    To be sending peace for every person! Nothing wrong with that!

    April 17, 2013 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Barn Dance Ho---daz right--last night deaf.

    David Letterman is the man....Conan can go

    April 17, 2013 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |

    conan is a waste of digital space

    April 17, 2013 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  16. Ignore Conan...Most do anyway


    April 17, 2013 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |

    Ridiculous Coments

    April 17, 2013 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  18. Sending Peace strikes us as a FONEY--just sayin

    April 17, 2013 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • kim

      Pay attention. No replies to the man (jam) who lives in Boston and saw and heard the mess????
      What's wrong with us? Barbs back and forth among you, and you read something real -
      I thought he was cool to take the time and share.

      April 17, 2013 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreed a from unavailable..


      April 17, 2013 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  19. Got to love CNN

    I'd rather be here on this site than to watch tv! : ) May Cnn have a great day!!

    April 17, 2013 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  20. Got to love CNN

    ; ) Sweet CNN! Thank you, for this site that gives everyone a chance to speak out. For fun as roll play or just important things. Again,thank you cnn.

    April 17, 2013 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
  21. Sending peace

    I feel so bad for those that lost body parts!! Life,it won't be easy! For when you have something all your life then it is taken away. Such evilness low life comes out of the gutters only to cause harm.

    April 17, 2013 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  22. Sending peace

    If you don't like what is on tv than just get vhs,dvd etc that will work! That is what I do ; ) news,it is more important! Just stick to the news.

    April 17, 2013 at 4:40 am | Report abuse |
  23. jam

    I live in Boston, and happened to take an overpass over the marathon, where a very colorful pack of runners were at a standstill. I say 'pack', because they were like sardines, and had been stopped due to the bombs. Within seconds, police cars and ambulances came out of nowhere, and all one could hear was screaming sirens. I burned rubber more than once, getting out of the way of an ambulance. Then I heard. Bloggers, all of us, have our own way of expressing horror and sadness,and although people took shots at one another, I could feel the underlying compulsion for something, just say something.

    April 17, 2013 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • yawn

      April 17, 2013 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Too many people posting here today are too young to care much. It's just more incomprehensible grown-up news to them. They are into clothes and hair!

      April 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • marina---no its

      1. good hair makes good s@x
      2. nice dating clothes leads too goo s@x
      3. harding working woman leads too good s@x.

      I'm about everything too make him want s@x

      April 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buddiefran

      God bless America.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  24. Sending peace

    May God please watch over those that were hurt!

    April 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Sending peace

    Time to clean the world from mean cold hearted evil people! If only a cop dog could sniff them up and send those evil people to the slow death unit! I say slow death for them to have time to hear us speak out our pain that they had caused!

    April 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Sending peace

    Nothing wrong to feel sad about what happens around the world. Things always happen bad to the good people but,nothing ever goes wrong to those jerks that cause harm!! I wish that it had back fired on the person that had made the IED type of bomb. The world would be a much better place if there would be a law that any person whom cause great harm that they do get put to into slow death unit nice and compact from around the world. Then having that be done! There should be peace on earth!

    April 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  27. charles brandt

    I quit watching late night comedy when Johnny Carson retired

    April 16, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Jim in Florida

    This is news? The never ending self aggradizing media that loves to make the media a story. Who really cares how late night "handled" the terrorist attacks.

    April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • marin

      This is clearly in the entertainment section; the headline was very clear. . Don't read it if you don't like it – real simple. Get off your high-horse.

      April 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetAGrip

      You came to the Marquee Section of CNN to complain that they are not reporting news? Each person deals with tragedy in their own way, so wouldnt it make sense for the entertainment portion of a news site to examine "how do people who crack jokes for a living deal with it"? If you want to wallow in the sadness and misery, go back to the front page. Pinhead.

      April 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danny

      Don't bother reading an article about a subject you don't agree with...and then proceed to comment about it....there are way too many complainers in today's world...Celebrities are human beings just like us, and I think late night hosts handled it with grace and humility.

      April 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      News? It's the "Marquee Blog" about show biz. Is your head hollow and filled with candy?

      April 17, 2013 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  29. MarCoach

    David Letterman is the star of the show...Conan is just a big mouth and let's everyone know he can hear a phone conversation

    The true magic is LETTERMAN-

    April 16, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Nobody Cares Who Conan knows....Its David who has it..

    wake up dammit

    April 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Conan does not have the personality...David does..

    David is held back from entertainment for some reason....David GO MAN

    April 16, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • skeptacular

      Wow! I never knew the same poster could change their name quite so quickly! Kudos!

      April 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Marina

    I know a spark when i see it....and Letterman still has that spark - come on Letterman you still can be number 1 and never ever listen too most of the disgusting bloggers.

    April 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Letterman is HOT...Conan is NOT


    April 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      It's in comments such as this one, that you can really appreciate the depth and intelligence of some of the American people.... Way to go...

      April 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Jealous E

      Letterman is the ticket too late night.....Conan is a dud.

      April 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  34. What a Schmuck...

    April 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  35. the jealous E

    that's right

    April 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Cootch-sand bag?


    April 16, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |

    April 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  38. The Jealous E

    Conan is not a talent-

    April 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Letterman is hot....Your Not


    April 16, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fed Up

      The word is you're, not your. Go back to school dummy.

      April 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      They ARE in school. They are sitting in a classroom with computers, using the comments on CNN to talk about their worthless and syphilitic lives and friends. Don't you recognize the mindlessness of teen girls?

      April 17, 2013 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  40. There all scripted about her miserable life--


    April 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Most of these blogs suck...same 3 people looking for attention

    April 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  42. mg

    i dont understand how u people can talk to each other like that on a day like today this is horrible and the wedding boming is horrible and the holocaust is terrible too i dont think that either of those events is more horrifying than the other but we r mourning this one because it happened yesterday this is my personal opinion and my prayers r with the city of boston

    April 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  43. et


    April 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  44. michael

    the answer to GOAT is yes

    April 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  45. ericstanway

    You know, when I worked in a newspaper, whenever we had a tragedy that happened in some other country, one of our editors would tag it a "Chinese ferryboat story" and bury it in the back of the paper. I had a problem with that then, and I have a problem with it now. We blew up a wedding in Afghanistan? It belongs on page one. End of discussion.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt Goodwin

      Eric, I might agree with you if that hadn't happened eleven years ago. You've been bamboozled.

      April 16, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  46. JonfromLI

    I kept NBC on after the news just to see how Leno would handle it, and he starts talking about the joy of finding out who the new pope was. That was when I turned the tv off and went to sleep.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Frederick

    .....what the heck is wrong with CNN???? All this celebrity crap is getting out of hand.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Miriam

    Letterman is NOT the best. He thinks he is funny when poking fun at peoples problems, like Lindsay Lohan in rehab, or him poking fun out of Hillary Clinton when she fell going up the airplane steps. Funny? I think not. He is a selfish old blow hard that had to be chided into marrying the woman who he got pregnant and good for Julia Roberts when she embarrassed him on his show when she asked if he was going to marry his 'baby momma' -And a great big cudo goes to Cher when she called him an ***hole right on camera. Yep they got it right, Someone who takes pleasure in making jokes at someone elses personal illness or misfortune shows lack of thinking and is a pathetic bald human being.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • ServesYouRight

      and you are so offended, it looks like you watch every show. 😉

      April 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Why dontcha tell us what you REALLY think, Miriam?


      April 16, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      You sound bitter and jealous. Are you his stalker?

      April 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |


      April 16, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • pismire

      When I was a pre-teen in the early 80's when Letterman started, I like most others thought he was the best. I watched his show religiously. For probably 8 years it remained that way... Then in the 90's as I moved into my 20's things changed. After I got married, even more changed. Now, I watch Letterman and more often than not, he seems to be a self-righteous angry disgruntled old man who is no longer funny, and just wants to push his left agenda. I guess when you're young, you think you're liberal... As you age, start a family, and realize what's important in your everyday life, you become a little more conservative... Letterman offends me now...

      April 16, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Jealous E--If Letterman offends u--change the station

      April 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pismire? its just blogging don't be offended..

      April 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patiat

      Yay! Here's someone who's plainly clueless when it comes to context.

      April 16, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Everyone in town will be thinking of u on the dance floor


      April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  49. b

    It is absolutely disgusting how ABC News handled the coverage of the bombings in their evening news broadcast. It was basically "Here is the explosion up close. Now here it is in slow motion", like its some kind of spectacle. That entire news team at ABC should be ashamed of themselves.

    April 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      Your tv remote has an off/on switch...and you can even change the channel....what a concept!!!

      April 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      ALL of the news outlets cover tragedies, because people want every bit of news they can get. It is a tragedy that has affected all Americans; we want to know what happened and what's happening. You appear to have been as interested as everyone else.

      April 16, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |

      April 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Television is a business. If people don't watch, they don't show.

      April 16, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      I did find a segment of the CBS Evening News broadcast interesting: a doctor (Dr. LaPook?) was on the set with the news anchor and he was concerned, especially for young people, of the repeated images of the carnage and how this can affect the viewer. As soon as he mentions that, they cut away to a rerun of clips of injured people being wheeled away from the scene!

      April 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  50. JRYDAF

    Funny how all three respond using self-deprecating humor.

    April 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  51. MontanaTrace

    The late night entertainers did a good job of commenting with balance and respect. Pity so many of those that write here, do not.

    April 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  52. pk

    Yep...we're all sick of this S***. Its a planet gone mad........

    April 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deez

      There has never been a time of peace in all of humanity's existence. People have always killed, belittled, and hated some other group. There are no new sins. "Days like these" are the same as they've always been.

      April 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Tom P.

    May those responsible for the cowardly bombing of innocent people "ROT IN HELL".

    April 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Jonus Grumby

    The last thing on my mind was how the late night clowns would handle this.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Then why bother readng and commenting about it?

      April 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      Let's compare three similar events that has happened today. Not denying any of these things are terrible.
      Let's compare three similar events that has happened today. Not denying any of these things are terrible, or that we should take note. We should just do a bit of thinking before we get emotional.

      Boston marathon explosion: two dead, at least another 77 injured. All hell breaks loose.
      Series of early morning explosions across cities in Iraq: 50 dead and nearly 300 wounded. Only a portion of people care or even know about it.
      US bombs Afghan wedding: at least 30 killed and a total of at least 120 killed or wounded. Not much attention given here, eh?

      Apparently two US lives are more important than 50 Iraqi and/or 30 Afghani lives. Then even though there is nothing to suggest middle eastern terrorist groups have been involved, the mass media uses this as a tool to help pit Americans against the Middle East and create further nationalism through hatred.

      All crimes against humans are crimes against humanity as a whole.
      We should not be drawing distinctions between the importance of one life and another because of their colour of their skin or the country they live in. If you want to support the victims, go for it. They'll get plenty of help since the US media can use them for their own gain, so I'll be spending my time trying to bring some things to light. Don't PRAY for good things to happen, make them happen.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • b-dog

      JP, why are you an idiot?? It's human nature to care more about what goes on in their own backyard.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolwut

      Apparently my original post got censored, so let's see if the cleaned up version went through: Ahh the interwebs, one of the greatest sources for information, and one of the greatest threats to it in the hands of stupid people. The "Wedding Bombing," which wasn't by drones btw, happened over 10 years ago... and not even on the same date. Stop reading the regurgitated bs of morons JP.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flora

      Wait a minute- U.S. news is more important to people in the U.S. and American lives are more important to Americans? What a brilliant scientific discovery you've made! You should be truly proud of yourself for such a discovery. You've just discovered what every human has been feeling everywhere in the world since the beginning of civilization. Of course, there have already been a number of studies into why this is true, but don't let that spoil your victory here, professor.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JK

      JP – The wedding bombing happened in 2002.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      I admit that I'm an idiot. Could you blame me for my ignorance and lack of perspective. Do I look at numbers and understand the meaning behind it? No. I assume I can compare what happens in Iraq is comparable to what happens in the United States. Well, since I do not have perspective I will continue: 6 million Jews were killed by the hands of the Nazi Germans. Wheew! That's a whole lot more than what Sadaam Hussein and modern Iraq has lost to car bombings, torture, etc.

      April 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Betty Growler

      @JP, your first sentence pretty much summed it up. You should have stopped after that as we're all in agreement with that sentence.

      April 16, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Sanders

    I appreciate the late night hosts honesty and sensetivity. I guess my only thought is even though their job is
    "To make People Laugh" What is wrong with one or 2 nights a year where we don't have to laugh ????
    There is a time for laughter and a time for mourning. Last night was "A Time for Mourning" and that's O.K.
    It's not a "Laughing Matter"
    Thanks for listening to my thoughts

    April 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SPC

      Late night TV provides me with what I like to term a "brain shower". It washes away all the stress, worry and troubles of the day, if only for a couple of hours, and helps me sleep at night with a clear head, devoid of the important issues of the day. From my point of view, it is the least funny days when we need our funny people the most.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • kondorky

      Certainly if for one or two nights you don't want to laugh, then don't turn on late night TV for those nights. No one is forcing people to watch and laugh.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip

      Days like this are the days we need them most.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • goat

      Why should we mourn for the 3 dead in America more than the 33 killed in iraq today? Are they more important people just because they're from our same country?

      April 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • To Goat

      Goat: American's mourn for Americans. Iraqis can mourn their own.

      American's have made this a great country, and for that, the rest of the world hates us because they can't have it. That is not our fault. They want it, make it happen for themselves.
      We respond this way because we are a great country. Iraq can choose to respond anywhich way they bring on to themselves.

      April 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      The rest of the world hates us because of how we treat them, not because we are great. We should mourn our dead. It's right that this event dominates the headlines. It's wrong that equally horrific events elsewhere in the world don't make headlines when Lilo has a bad hair/court day.

      April 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  56. johnson

    sounds like they are trying to hard to make fun of themselves, they are not as good as letterman who will always be the best.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |

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