The Cosby sexual assault allegations may be the most talked about thing on the Internet this week, but reaction has been practically radio silent on the late night shows. It’s understandable why, and in fact, the Seth Meyers’ “joke” in the video above breaks down all the reasons why late night has left it alone. On Late Night, a planted audience member pressured Meyers to tell a Cosby joke, and then smartly, Meyers and the audience member essentially deconstruct in comedy form all the reasons why Cosby jokes are a bad idea. It’s a hard subject to make light of, it’s a dicey area, and late night hosts are afraid that they’ll come down on the wrong side of the issue, as Stacey Dash did yesterday on Twitter.
It’s understandable. Sarah Silverman also made a Cosby joke on Twitter, and it did NOT go well.
The reaction from her followers was swift and fierce, decrying Silverman for making light of a tragic situation, even though that’s EXACTLY what Silverman is best known for. However, even Silverman relented and rewrote the Tweet.
Meanwhile, officially Conan was the first mainstream late night host to make a Cosby joke, but he kind of wussed out on it. In a segment in which celebrities “completed a particular sentence,” the phrase “Where there’s smoke there’s usually…” was finished with “fire” by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Josh Brolin. But Bill Cosby “wrote”: “The smoke is lying.”
Even Conan recognized that — as lightweight a joke as it was — he was skating on thin ice, as he paused, looked around, and whistled (around the 2:35 mark).
Not a great joke, but someone had to break the ice and test the waters. So, uh, everyone thank Conan for trailblazing the Cosby joke terrain and making it possible for other late night hosts to join in the fray.