Colbert and Fallon deal with uncomfortable silence as coronavirus keeps audiences at home

It was a strange lineup of late night shows on Thursday as most shows filmed with no live audience other than their crew.

It was announced on Wednesday that all late night shows filming in New York would film without a studio audience in an effort to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. But on Thursday, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon announced in a tweet they’d be stopping production until March 30 to protect the staff, crew and guests, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert canceled all of next week’s shows ahead of an already scheduled break. And based on how the shows went Thursday night, though entertaining in an awkward sort of way, they probably made the right choice.

Fallon tried to get through it but seemed genuinely irritated by the virtual silence that followed each punchline, and even The Roots were off their game.

About 10 minutes into The Late ShowColbert just seemed to check out. In fact, they aired the rehearsal.

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Stephen Colbert attends 'Rei Kawakubo/Commes Des Garcons: Art of the In-Between' at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic))
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Stephen Colbert (L) and Evelyn McGee attend the 'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images For Entertainment Weekly)
MONTCLAIR, NJ - APRIL 30: Stephen Colbert and John Turturro arrive at Conversation Series Discussion at the Montclair Film Festival 2017 Day Three on April 30, 2017 in Montclair, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Montclair Film Festival)
MONTCLAIR, NJ - APRIL 28: Stephen Colbert and Dolores Huerta arrive at Montclair Film Festival 2017 Opening Night on April 28, 2017 in Montclair, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Montclair Film Festival)
NEW YORK - APRIL 25: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest John Legend, Kelly Osbourne, Dr John during Tuesday's 4/25/20 show. (Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 17: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert during Monday's 04/17/17 show in New York. (Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 6: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on *Thursday, April 6, 2017 Special Hybrid Episode: Jessica Lange; Bassem Youssef; Judy Gold. (Photo by Mary Kouw/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 02: Evelyn McGee-Colbert and Stephen Colbert attends 'The Play That Goes Wrong' Broadway Opening Night at the Lyceum Theatre on April 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MARCH 27: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing Tuesday March 27, 2017 with Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda; Jay Chandrasekhar; musical performance by Aimee Mann (Photo by Richard Boeth/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 31: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing Friday March 31, 2017 with Susan Sarandon, Joey McIntyre, Robert Klein. (Photo by Richard Boeth/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 21: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 with guest Ryan Reynolds (Photo by Mary Kouw/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 14: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing Tuesday, March 14, 2017 with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Todd Barry. (Photo by Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 13: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, interviews with Ewan McGregor, Finn Wittrock and musical performance by The Shins on Monday's taping in New York. Pictured left to right: Finn Wittrock and Stephen Colbert. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 6: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing Monday, March 6, 2017 with Judd Apatow. (Photo by Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 6: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing Monday, March 6, 2017 with Anderson Cooper, Judd Apatow and musical performance by Jidenna. (Photo by Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 28: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing Tuesday February 28, 2017 with Lisa Kudrow; former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest; comedian Tony Rock. (Photo by Richard Boeth/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 17: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 with guests Julie Andrews; Christina Hendricks (Photo by Mary Kouw/CBS via Getty Images)
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After a joke that would have normally shown a graphic and gotten a laugh had no graphic and no laugh, Colbert said, “This is rehearsal, but I think this is what we actually show people.” He followed that with, “They’re gonna be really surprised when I walk out of the building in a half hour.”

Meanwhile, over on Jimmy Kimmel Live, former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg guest hosted, and though he also had almost no audience to speak of, the people at Kimmel had a backup plan. After some of Buttigieg’s jokes, clips were shown of audiences cheering from a presidential address, the Oscars, and a basketball game.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.

Jimmy Kimmel Live airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on ABC.

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