tv The Late Show With Stephen Colbert CBS December 23, 2020 11:35pm-12:37am PST
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>> putonamasc, it's not hard. >> that's the problem. >> announcer: it's "a late show" with stephen colbert. tonight, covid is coming to town. plus, stephen welcomes: meryl streep. and musical guest chris stapleton. plus, jon batiste and "stay homin'." and now, live on tape from the ed sullivan theater office building in new york city, it's stephen colbert! >> stephen: hello and welcome to "a late show." i'm your host stephen colbert. i'm dying to find out how much of what i just said ends up on tonight's show. christmas is coming, ladies and gentlemen. we're all looking forward to the miracle of santa going all around the world in a single night. but, you know what's moving almost as fast santa? coronavirus. and i'll tell you all about it in my ongoing segment, "catch a third wave: endless bummer." >> hey, everybody, i'm still here!
and-- ahh! no! stop it! electrical hazard! what did i do to deserve--" >> stephen: i think i was a little late. over the weekend, u.s. covid-19 hospitalizations hit another record high, which is why we all need to protect each other by staying home, where you can sit alone on your couch and hit a record high. know what i'm saying? experts are trying to help americans brace for how bad things will get. take coronavirus response coordinator dr. deborah birx, seen here explaining the plot of "alien vs. predator." birx appeared on the "meet the press" yesterday and sai that the winter surge would be the worst event in u.s. history. so, sorry, celebrity "imagine" video, your time atop the throne is over. out, out, brief candle. now, one major difference is, with the other most tragic
events in american history, back then you didn't have a big chunk of the population saying, "it's a hoax!" i mean, for pete's sake, today, december 7, the anniversary of pearl harbor, and you never heard f.d.r. say this: >> december 7, 1941-- a date which will live in infamy-- because the japanese air force is a hoax! it's all a plot by the vanderbilt's to implant telegraph wires in your brain! >> stephen: one of the latest people affected is the president's lawyer rudy giuliani, seen here pinching out a closing statement. ( evie laughing ) yesterday, we learned that giuliani tested positive for coronavirus. okay, for a man his age, it is a troubling diagnosis, but i have no doubt he'll get the same top- notch medical care the president did. plus, you know rudy will stay hydrated. he drinks so many fluids, they leak out his skull. but it's not just rudy who's at risk. giuliani has traveled extensively to battleground
states in recent days and met with officials for hours at a time without wearing a mask. that is so reckless! they willingly sat in the same room with rudy giuliani's teeth! not only has giuliani gone maskless, he's also tried to coax his own witnesses to take their masks off: >> ms. jacob? >> yes. >> i don't want you to do this if you feel uncomfortable, but would you be comfortable taking your mask off so that the people could hear you more clearly? >> can you hear me now? >> can everyone hear her clearly? >> we can hear you. >> okay! >> stephen: ( as rudy ) are you sure you don't want to take it off? it just feels better without it, the mask kills all the sensation. look, i bought you dinner, at least let me see your nostrils. no? no? shaking your head? ( evie laughing ) i think it's a perfectly fine metaphor. typhoid rudy is such a disease vector that the arizona legislature's closing for a week after he spent two days with maskless g.o.p. lawmakers. so, for just a partial list of
rudy's achievements since the election: he's lost 48 lawsuits, he melted on camera, he farted in court, he got covid, and he shut down a state legislature. the only thing more embarrassing would be if he married his own cousin. he what? oh, but that's okay? ( evie laughing ) despite-- ( muffled ) i'm going to keep talking. we have a short time frame. despite his lawyer's serious illness, the president has vowed to continue the fight against democracy. and i'll give you the latest in my unfortunately ongoing segment: ♪ ass-clown racist sing this song ♪ coup d'etat coup d'etat ♪ ass-clown fascist loves kim jong ♪ i will not go away >> "the road from the white house." ( clapping ) >> stephen: there has been yet another huge blow to the president's coup attempt because, just hours ago, georgia re-certified its presidential
election results, once again finding joe biden as the winner, following three counts of ballots. well, like the saying goes, "third time's the... same as the first and the second time, only much more humiliating." don't feel left out, mr. president. biden may have won the peach state, but you got impeached, and that'll never go away. but it's the moment the president has been dreading. to try to keep this from happening, this weekend, he called, georgia governor and dennis quaid with water damage, brian kemp. the president pressed kemp to call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to override the results of the election and instead appoint electors who would then back the president at the electoral college. i'm going to say this is a rough time for those who've been insisting that he's not really an autocrat. because let's be clear here: if you throw out the votes, that's the end of democracy. it's a short walk from "do us a favor though" to "make me mussolini, bro." thankfully, kemp declined the
president's request. well, it's understandable. atlanta's already burned once, they're good. later that night, the president went to georgia for a m.a.g.a. rally, and while he complained about the election, he insisted that it's not just about him: >> we're all victims. everybody here, all these thousands of people here tonight, they're all victims, every one of you. >> stephen: and they're packed together at a rally, not wearing masks, so if any of them aren't victims now, just wait three to five days. then the sore loser tried to convince us that he's only being a sore loser because he didn't lose: >> and i have to say, if i lost i'd be a very gracious loser. if i lost, i would say i lost and i'd go to florida and i'd take it easy and i'd go around and i'd say i did a good job. >> stephen: as opposed to how he spent his presidency, going to florida, taking it easy, and saying he did a good job. but no maga rally would be complete without one truly stupid ramble.
>> who does cucumbers around here? because i like cucumbers. can you-- i'm the only one. i like cucumbers. >> stephen: come on! at this point, he's just testing what they'll applaud. because the only thing dumber than him bragging that he's the only one who loves cucumbers is the audience cheering for cucumbers! "woo, yeah, cucumbers! woo! they make pickles! chop them up, chop them up! i relish it!" the president-- i'm sweating right through this, look at that. the president was supposedly in georgia to help the republican senatorial candidates in their upcoming runoff elections-- but he didn't seem that enthusiastic about them: >> you know, i don't do these things for other people. i don't like doing it for other people. i said-- david and kelly called, "would you do a rally?" i said, "not really. i did 56 of them." >> stephen: kind of harsh, and also his answer to "do you take this woman to be your lawfully- wedded wife?"
>> not really. i did 56 of them. >> stephen: these were incredibly close races in the general election, so the january 5 runoff is really going to come down to voter turnout. and the president wanted to make sure that all his followers knew what day to show up: >> everything that we've achieved together is on the line on june 5. >> stephen: that's right. you listen to your president. he's never wrong! you must vote on june 5! for the rest of you, you might want to find out the actual election date at betterknowaballot.com/ga. the candidates in both runoff elections debated last night. the more noteworthy of the two was between incumbent georgia republican and actor who wants you to ask your doctor about irritable bowel syndrome, senator david perdue, against democratic challenger and bar mitzvah boy genuinely moved by his bubbe's toast, jon ossoff. the last time these two men debated, this happened: >> well, perhaps senator perdue would have been able to respond properly to the covid-19
pandemic if you hadn't been fending off multiple federal investigations for insider trading. it's not just that you're a crook senator, it's that you're attacking the health of the people that you represent. can you look down the camera and tell the people of this state, why you voted four times to allow insurance companies to deny us health coverage because we may suffer from diabetes, or heart disease, or asthma, or have cancer in remission? why, senator? >> stephen: damn. jon ossoff just tore him a new oss-hole! so, all eyes were on last night's debate to see how perdue was going to fare in the rematch. >> the candidates are democrat jon ossoff. he is c.e.o. of insight t.w.i., a media production company. republican david perdue has served in the u.s. senate since 2015.
senator perdue declined to participate in this debate and is represented by an empty podium. >> stephen: wow, he didn't show! although, i will say, that podium does have more personality than david purdue. of course, this kind of debate is not unprecedented in american history. who can forget the classic exchange in the lincoln-douglas debates when lincoln said, "a house divided against itself cannot stand." to which douglas replied, "i am a chair." ( evie laughing ) in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, and a clear election in which the defeated incumbent still hasn't recognized reality, the white house decided that today was the perfect time for the first lady to announce the completion of the new white house tennis pavilion. it's the only place eric or don junior will ever hear the word "love." ( evie laughing ) now, i will say, it might be tough for this administration to find anybody to play with. because based on how they've behaved since the election, the republicans clearly don't have
any balls. in a statement, the first lady statemented, "it is my hope that this private space will function as both a place of leisure and gathering for future first families." that's the closest we're going to get to a concession! she's admitting there will be future first families, and gatherings! well, according to the white house, the construction of the new tennis building was funded by private donations. so, when the campaign sent out emails begging for "court money," technically, they weren't lying. now, if you watch this show, and i hope you do, you may notice i occasionally criticize this white house. but i'm honestly excited for this tennis thing, because it gives me yet another reason to show this photo. i also get to show that photo when we talk about sports, athleisure wear, and honey glazed hams. we've got a great show for you tonight. meryl streep is here! stick around. it's meryl streep, for pete's sake! ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> stephen: hey, everybody, welcome back to "a late show." let's say hello to jon batiste. hello, jon batiste. >> ( scatting ) >> stephen: ooh, i like that coat. i like that coat. >> jon: it's getting cold, it's getting cold. the winter is coming. the hawk is coming. it's flying. >> stephen: you look like a package of life savers. >> jon: yeah, it's like the hudson bay coats, you know. it's like a blanket and coat all in one. >> stephen: oh, i like it. >> jon: and it's a life saver. >> stephen: you know what, if you're looking to get me something for christmas... >> jon: yeah, i asked you about that. what are you looking to get? >> stephen: i don't think i could pull off that coat is the problem. i like that coat, i just don't think it would look the same on me.
>> jon: i think you're right about that, but... ( laughter ) but i do think that if-- >> stephen: i think i would look like an extra puppet. >> jon: you ever watch these-- it's kind of like the fabric that the muppets are made out of. >> stephen: that's what i was thinking. i would look like a background extra in "avenue q." ( laughter ) do you have anything to play for transitioning to meryl streep? >> jon: oh, yeah, meryl, let's see... ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> stephen: jon batiste, everybody. thank you, jon. >> jon: yes, indeed. >> stephen: my guest tonight is an actor whose career is synonymous with excellence, please welcome to "a late show" meryl streep. hello, meryl. >> hi, stephen. thanks for having me. >> stephen: it's lovely to see you. >> great to see you.
>> stephen: now, i like to ask all my guests this right now, given where we are given, the covid and the lockdowns, where in the world are we finding you? are you home right now? >> i'm home and you can hear the heat coming on. in the berkshires. i'm shooting a film in boston, so i'm commuting-- >> stephen: oh, that's nice. >> kind of back and forth, yeah. >> stephen: am i allowed to know what this film is or what you're doing in it? i'm always excited for the next one. >> yeah, it's called "don't look up" and it's about a global catastrophe, but it's sort of funny, like "dr. strangelove" for 2020, a global warming metaphor for that. and yeah, it's a big starry cast and lots of fun people. >> stephen: and who do you play? >> oh, well, i play the president of the united states. >> stephen: oh, perfect. perfect. so in the "strangelove" model, you are president merk mufflin. >> yes, yes, indeed. ( laughs ) except i have a chief of staff, who's my son, and that's jonah
hill. and we had our first scene on friday and i was so bad. i realize, i came out of the-- >> stephen: what? >> well, i've been in this, you know, quarantine because they have to be very careful. and i'm totally alone, and my first scene was entering a stadium full of 20,000 people as the president, my big face on the jumbotron in front of me, and i just, like, completely lost it. ( laughs ) i couldn't remember anything i was supposed to say. but i'm sure it will be fine in the edit. ( laughter ) >> stephen: well, it's so amazing. that's where the real moviemaking happens, that's where the real acting takes place, is in the edit. they sure made me look better over the years. what's it like to shoot a movie? that sounds remarkably normal. does it feel normal to do? >> not at all, no. first of all, there weren't
20,000 people, obviously. i don't know how many, but they'll duplicate them. there were extras all around the stadium, lonely people separated by 20 feet of air, wearing masks and visors that are clear. so, they're meant to have a big huzzah, you know, make a big noise, but it sounds like-- ( muffled ) --and the whole thing is so eerie and odd and disconcerting, and we all have, of course, masks. at the last minute, you take everything off, and the lipstick is all up here. >> stephen: and you have the nice ring of sweat. that's nice. >> you have the nice ring. it's all-- the illusion is so easy to maintain. anyway, it was hilarious and they're all great. but, god, i have to pull myself together for monday. >> stephen: well, this holiday season, you've been kind enough to gift your fans with two
movies shot before covid, so we were able to shoot this without any masks. i want to talk about them. but the first is "let them all talk," which i watched this weekend and i really enjoyed. >> well, thank you. >> stephen: it's a steven soderbergh movie with a great cast, diane wiest, and candice bergen, and gemma chan, and lucas hedges. >> lucas hedges, yeah. >> stephen: and lucas hedges, just fantastic. but, it takes place, is it the queen mary 2? >> it's the queen mary, yeah. >> stephen: have you cruised before? because you actually, even now, it made cruising look attractive. >> well, it couldn't get much more attractive than on that particular ship. it's pretty spectacular. but, yeah, we went-- i guess it was last august. i mean, before the quarantine, before the covid thing, and we crossed for, i guess it's seven
or eight days, and made the whole movie pretty much then. there were two or three scenes in england once we landed, but the added thing was that debra isenberg, the great novelist, and stephen had outlined an idea. and each scene, each day had the outlines of an idea, but no script. so we made it up as we went along. >> stephen: so how would they do it? would they hand you your intention or something? like, how do you know where you're going? >> well, you have where you're supposed to end up, the sort of result that needs to happen at the end of the scene. but, how you get there was just individually up to the actors that were in the scene. so it was really fun and really lively, and they're very bright, interesting, imaginative people
that i was working with. so, it was a kick, but it was terrifying. >> stephen: i was wondering because, you know, a lot of directors and actors use improvisation in the rehearsal process to find the like, the roots of intention and stuff like that. but had you done a whole movie that was essentially improvised like that before? >> no, who has? i mean, no. i certainly, i've never made a movie in eight days, either. i mean it was-- >> stephen: oh, wow. >> incredible. >> stephen: and chronological, because basically what is happening to the characters is in order in which you shot it? >> yeah, so, and it's our own clothes, you know. so, i would get up in the morning, put on my own clothes, and go next door and have the breakfast scene with lucas hedges, you know, sort of my pajamas and a robe that i have here at home, and we'd have breakfast and we would just talk about what we were supposed to talk about, in a way, but we could veer off, he didn't care. then he edited it over lunch and
dinner, and we would be exhausted and quickly read through what we were supposed to achieve the next day, and then go to bed wracked with anxiety that we wouldn't come up with anything interesting. >> stephen: and did he ever reject what you'd created and go, no, no, no, no, you've got to do that differently, that's not what your character would say? ( laughs ) >> no, he never did. >> stephen: wow, that's great. >> see, it's all in the editing, babe. he knew he was going to cut it out. he's thinking click, click, click, you know, i don't need that. >> stephen: meryl, we have to take a quick break, but stick around, everybody. we'll be right back with more meryl streep. ♪ ♪
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>> stephen: hey, everybody! we're back with meryl streep. did you like being out there in the middle of the ocean, because this is not, what is it-- actually, your character talks about this. it's not a cruise, it's a crossing, which is different. >> it's a crossing. >> stephen: new york to southampton. it actually sounds kind of attractive. >> well, it is a crossing. i mean, that's a metaphor for the whole film and what it's sort of about. it's sort of-- yes, aiming at its end. so, i had done it when i was first married. they used to-- maybe they still do this. they do offer you, if you have a film or something, if you come and show it and talk about it, they'll give you a little state room, and, so, we did that when i was first married, and it was really fun. but you-- but this one is so huge that people didn't know we were making a film. i mean, there were little signs
saying "a film is being made," but it's just soderbergh with this little bitty camera. >> stephen: well, of course. what was i thinking? in my mind, this is your set, but it's not, they actually have regular paying customers on there. and did they, did anyone ever go, oh my god, it's meryl streep and diane wiest and candice bergen! did people ever snap their head around? >> no, i don't think so... alarmingly. >> stephen: you're not as attractive as a midnight shrimp buffet. because i know people just eat from hell to breakfast on these boats, right? >> well, they eat and they gamble and they dance and it's pretty-- the greatest thing is really that moment in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the night, you go out on the deck, and you're so far from everything. and in fact, they tell you when you first get on, there's a point where, if anything terrible happens, nobody could really get there in time, you know, there's no way to land or
anything, so that's sort of thrilling. >> stephen: ( laughs ) wow. >> and you have that feeling, you know, of people navigating by celestial navigation. i was thinking about people making that crossing under the most horrible circumstances, you know, the slave ships and benjamin franklin going back and forth to the court of louis the whatever. and i just thought, wow... it really is awe-inspiring to see the night sky with absolutely no ambient light. it's pretty amazing. >> stephen: we have a clip here. do you know what's going on in this one? can you set it up for our audience? >> this is the very first-- this is the very first night on the ship, and where we're just getting together and setting up what everybody can expect, and they've all agreed to come. these are my college roommates. they've agreed to come under,
for different reasons, and that sort of becomes apparent. >> stephen: jim? >> here's to picking up the conversation where we left off, you know, and here's to maybe reconnecting the gang of three we used to be. >> cheers. >> yeah, thank you. >> thank you. >> have a good one. >> good night. thank you. >> good night. hey, bert, you want to go have a drink later? >> no, i can't. >> stephen: you also have another film out right now called "the prom," adapted from the 2018 broadway musical. >> yep. >> stephen: you play a woman named dee dee allen and you've describe her in an interview as, for cbs i'm going to say, a big a-hole. >> oh, yes! >> stephen: and you tried very hard to bring that part of me
forward. how far did you have to reach for that part of you? ( laughter ) because i'm afraid if i did that i'd get out the spade and go, all right, i'm already there. it's a little frightening to reach for that, in case it's too easy. so what do you mean, she's a big-- >> well, she-- she's someone-- oh, she's very dear, you know, she's a diva. >> stephen: she's a huge stage presence, for the people who don't know. she's a star on broadway. >> she's a huge presence, a big broadway star. and she's probably past her sell-by date, and kind of suspects that that's true, and she's pulled up everything that you can pull up and she's, you know, had the bunions cut off and she's really tried, and everything's going, and, anyway, in a last-ditch effort to revive her flagging career, she and her
friends contrive this scheme to help, in some way, make a big social statement and get some good publicity for once because, really, their careers are flagging. >> stephen: well, it's sort of based around a high school prom. did you go to prom? do you remember your prom? >> sure. i went to six proms, i think? >> stephen: six? wait a second, six proms? how long were you in high school? >> is that-- two each year for-- >> stephen: oh, okay. >> for a few years. anyway, because they have the junior prom, the senior prom. >> stephen: sure, sure. >> everybody has to go to everything. >> stephen: mm-hmm. >> yeah, i went to prom, my first prom when i was 14. >> stephen: wow. >> and i went with a senior to the senior prom. i can't believe my father let me do this. >> stephen: i can't believe that either.
>> with a big football player. so, anyway, i went, i had a little dress that my mother had made, and it had little spaghetti straps-- people don't even know what those are anymore, but they are straps that are as thin as spaghetti. and i took the pictures with my parents and walked out to the car and i sat down in the car and... ( pop ) both of them went, ( pop )( pop ) both of them popped off. and i really didn't have anything to hold them up, to hold this dress up with, without the spaghetti, so-- >> stephen: mm-hmm. >> i spent the whole prom like, you know, dancing, holding the thing up with my-- but, you know, it was the first of many wardrobe malfunctions in my life. >> stephen: we have to take a quick break. but when we come back, i'm going to ask meryl about her appearance in obama's new book. i'm not sure if she knows. stick around. ♪ ♪
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last couple of weeks because i interviewed him for the show, and i just want to make you aware of something that happens, you're in this. you're on page 541. >> i'm in the book. >> stephen: i'm not in this book. and i did a lot with the president. i'm not in the damned book, but you're in the book. >> wow. >> stephen: on page 542 he's talking about sort of artists and entertainers and the cultural hub that they wanted the white house to be. and one of the thing he mentioned is meryl streep leaning over to softly recite in mandarin the lyrics to a song about clouds that she had learned for a part years ago. do you remember that moment? >> i-- i do remember that moment, yes. but he got the story a little bit wrong. he's a very good writer but his memory is-- >> stephen: let's fact check the president here. what was the reality? it wasn't for a part? it wasn't mandarin? >> yeah, it was a poem-- i had
just gotten back, actually, from this trip to beijing with a cultural-- it was a cultural kind of exchange thing. and i went with yo-yo ma and a bunch of performers, and we were to be in the great big nest stadium with 7,000 people, and we were going to do a concert, and yo-yo and i were going to do a very famous, like, fourth century chinese poem that everyone knows. and i was going to do it first in english and then in chinese. and at the last moment, we heard that the cultural minister was coming, who is an extremely important person, and they threw us all against the walls and frisked us, you know, because this was such an important person with her 40-person entourage. and she took the whole first tier and sat like this, and we
were all terrified. and i had learned the poem in mandarin, and i had learned it, obviously, in english, and yo-yo would weave in his music in between, we had practiced this. but in chinese, the same word can be translated as a completely different thing. famously, there's a story that-- and i'm probably going to get it wrong but-- ma means momma, ma. but ma means horse and ma means hooker, so-- >> stephen: you want to get the three right-- >> you want to get it right-- >> stephen: before you saddle up. >> before you saddle up. and, so, i thought, oh, my god am i going to be saying, you know, your mother eats rocks poolside, you know, or something, instead of what the
poem was? and i so was terrified that i chickened out, and i said the poem in english, and yo-yo played the music, and then i meant to start up into mandarin and i just looked at him and smiled-- ( laughter ) and he went cross-eyed and kind of finished up, and then we both bowed. it was really... because of his artistry, it was a wonderful moment. people loved it. but yes, i remembered the poem. >> stephen: do you still remember it? can you give us a little taste? >> i remembered the poem and sent it to the president. do you mean now? >> stephen: i mean, is it possible? >> yes! >> stephen: i don't want to put you on the spot other than the fact that i do. >> yes. okay. it's actually-- it's actually kind of a great poem for the
quarantine because it's-- it's-- "on the misty mountain, alone on a misty mountain i come to a clearing. sunlight on green moss i am not alone." so, that's the poem. and it's-- ( repeating poem in mandarin ) that's it. >> stephen: thank you. we rarely get mandarin poetry in late night these days. >> yes, but, since one in five people on the face of the earth is chinese, they will know now that i have just said something horrible, probably. >> stephen: but my ratings are
going to be huge in beijing! >> it's an international incident! ( laughing ) >> stephen: meryl, thank you so much for being here. >> aww, thanks for having me, thank you. good to see you. >> stephen: "let them all talk" premieres thursday on hbo max and "the prom" is in select theaters and available to stream on netflix this friday. meryl streep, everybody we'll be right back with a performance by chris stapleton. ♪ ♪ and with free curbside pickup at walmart... you can get the perfect gift up until the last minute. let's end the year nailing it. ♪
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think twice," from his album, and this is the actual album cover, "starting over," chris stapleton. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ i take a little smoke in the evenin' ♪ i take a little whiskey on ice ♪ i never get behind on killin' my mind ♪ it's just the kind of things i like ♪ just the kind of things i like ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ the minute that i saw you
walkin' over ♪ i figured i was diggin' my grave ♪ and you had the shovel i knew you were trouble ♪ but you're just the kind of trouble i crave ♪ just the kind of trouble i crave ♪ ♪ ♪ and mama always set a good example ♪ daddy always gave me good advice ♪ jesus tried to steer me in the right direction ♪ but the devil always made me think twice ♪ devil always made me think ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ someday i'm goin' six feet under ♪ and when they got me standin' at the gate ♪ they'll tally up my sins and won't let me in ♪ say "son, you're just a little too late ♪ son, you're just a little too late" ♪ and mama always set a good example ♪ daddy always gave me good advice ♪ jesus tried to steer me in the right direction ♪ but the devil always made me think twice ♪ devil always made me think twice ♪ devil always made me think twice ♪ devil always made me
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