Brawls Run Down the Clock on Late-Night Comedy Shows

What Everyone Is Talking about

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Here's one good thing that's come out of the writers strike: the cross-promotional brawl between Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Conan O'Brien last week.
Threesome: (From l.) Colbert, Stewart and O'Brien mix it up.
Threesome: (From l.) Colbert, Stewart and O'Brien mix it up.

Why were the three comedy hosts storming onto each other's sets demanding that they take it outside to pummel each other? Mike Huckabee -- and it was a good way to eat up the minutes that writers weren't filling.

It seems O'Brien and Colbert, adrift without their writers and needing material for their shows, both hit upon the same idea: to claim credit for the rising political fortunes of the Republican from Arkansas. And each had a connection to the candidate to mine. Colbert had welcomed Huckabee on his show as a guest several times and even suggested joining him as his running mate. O'Brien, meanwhile, has a long-running segment playing off the Chuck Norris series, "Walker, Texas Ranger." Norris is one of Huckabee's most visible supporters and prominently stood behind the candidate during a recent celebratory speech in Iowa.

Both O'Brien and Colbert began to play off each other's boasts in recent weeks, with O'Brien claiming that since he had shown a clip of Colbert's dinky little cable show on his own broadcast-TV-late night show, he was actually responsible for "making" Colbert. The back-and-forth escalated until "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart showed a clip from his early '90s "The Jon Stewart Show" on MTV in which he claims he introduced O'Brien to American viewers.

So follow along now: If Colbert made Huckabee, and O'Brien made Colbert, but Stewart made O'Brien, then, therefore, Stewart made Huckabee. That was the conceit that pushed O'Brien on Feb. 4 to storm onto first the set of "The Daily Show," and later "The Colbert Report." Naturally, Stewart and Colbert returned the favor by appearing on his set later that night to finally settle the score and kick some translucent-white butt. Lucky for the three hosts, the studios where each of them record their shows are all in midtown Manhattan. Here's hoping David Letterman wants in. After all, the Ed Sullivan Theater isn't that far of a walk.
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