As The Late Show's first in-studio guest in 16 months, Jon Stewart made quite the impression when he insisted, completely seriously, that the novel coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. Stewart said that the virus was probably man-made, as "the disease is the same name as the lab," and that can't just be a coincidence. "Can I say this about scientists?" said the former Daily Show host. "I love them and they do such good work, but they are going to kill us all."
"I honestly mean this: I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science," Stewart said, when Stephen Colbert asked about — what else? — the pandemic. "Science has in many ways helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science."
Colbert practically did a spit take, but he managed to rein it in. "So, what do you mean? That perhaps there's a chance this was created in a lab? There's an investigation," he told his guest. "A chance?" replied Stewart. "Oh my God, there's a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China. What do we do? Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab."
Stewart said it's "a little too weird" that the lab is located where the outbreak began, and he compared it to an incident surrounding a chocolate factory. "Oh my God! There's been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened?" he said. "Oh, I don't know, maybe a steam shovel made it with a cocoa bean. Or it's the fucking chocolate factory!"
"And how long have you worked for Sen. Ron Johnson?" asked Colbert, after his guest stopped ranting. "This is not a conspiracy!" replied Stewart. "This is the problem with science: science is incredible. But they don't know when to stop, and nobody in the room with those cats ever goes, 'I don't know if we should do that.' They're like, 'Curiosity killed the cat. Well, let's kill 10,000 cats to find out why.'"
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert — now back in the studio — airs weeknights at 11:35 PM ET on CBS.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.