The special broadcast on Showtime started out lighthearted, as most people geared up for what looked like a clear Democratic victory.
However, when guests Mark Halperin and John Heilemann of Bloomberg told Colbert the Republican candidate had become the front-runner, Colbert appeared visibly dismayed.
“I’m not sure if it’s a comedy show at this point,” Colbert said. “I think we’re in the middle of a documentary right now.”
Moments later, news broke live on air that Trump had won Florida, and Halperin said Trump was “now on the doorstep of 270 electoral votes.”
The crowd audibly gasped.
“Wow, that’s a horrifying prospect,” Colbert said. “I can’t put a happy face on that, and that’s my job.”
As the show wrapped up with a Trump presidency seeming almost certain, Colbert took a moment to call for national unity.
“We are more divided than ever as a nation,” Colbert said.
“So how did our politics get so poisonous? I think it’s because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison.”
“We take a little bit of it so you can hate the other side. And it tastes kind of good, and you like how it feels, and there’s a gentle high to the condemnation. And you know you’re right, right? You know you’re right,” he said.
Colbert wrapped up the evening on a lighter note, listing a bunch of things all Americans can agree on: replying all on mass emails is the worst, Kit Kats should be eaten in segments (“not bitten into like a normal candy bar, you animal”), veggie pizza is pointless, and Alex Trebek will never die.
“In the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine,” he said.
“You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”