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Stephen Colbert, other late-night TV hosts turn serious over Orlando shooting

NEW YORK -- As they returned to work after Sunday morning's mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, TV's late-night hosts faced the challenge none of them looks forward to.

Their specialty is mining laughs. Their quarry is the foolishness of the human race and the absurdities gleaned from the latest news. But when a national tragedy afflicts the nation - an event too wrenching to ignore and certainly no laughing matter - these jokesters must shift gears. They have to find a way to bond with their viewers, as they do every night, but with shared feelings unrelieved by the comfort of comedy.

That's what a number of these hosts did Monday night, opening their respective shows with apologies for departing from their customary hijinks, and with heart-felt expressions of shock and sorrow:

-- Stephen Colbert ("The Late Show"): "Like you, I am sickened at the news that, early yesterday, a terrorist killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in Orlando, in the most deadly shooting in American history. Naturally, we each ask ourselves, 'What can you possibly say in the face of this horror?' But then sadly, you realize you know what to say, because it's been said tool many times before. ... It's as if there's a national script that we have learned, and I think by accepting the script, we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time, with nothing changing, except for the loved ones and the families of the victims, for whom nothing will ever be the same. It's easy, it's almost tempting to be paralyzed by such a monstrously hateful act, to despair, and say, 'That's the way the world is now.' Well, I don't know what to do, but I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything. ... Love is not despair. Love makes us strong. Love gives us the courage to act. Love gives us hope that change is possible. Love allows us to change the script. So love your country, love your family, love the families and the victims and the people of Orlando but let's remember that love is a verb. And to love means to do something."

-- Trevor Noah ("The Daily Show"): "I wonder if President Obama ever thought to himself that mass-shooting speeches would be such a big part of his job. Because at this point, he's hosted 12 state dinners, but he's had to give 16 mass-shooting addresses. So right now the White House is using more Kleenex than it is good napkins. ... America needs to ask itself the question: Do you want to be a country that takes reasonable measures to protect its citizens, or should we tell the president to prepare speech No. 17?"

-- Jimmy Fallon ("The Tonight Show"): "This (shooter) was just one bad guy here. Forty-nine good people, and one bad guy. And there will always be more good than evil. When I think of Orlando, I think of nothing but fun and joy and families. If anyone can do it, you can. Keep loving each other, keep respecting each other, and keep on dancing."

-- Conan O'Brien ("Conan"): "Now, I am not a pundit, I am not an expert, and I have always, always made it a policy to stick to my job and keep my opinions to myself. I have really tried very hard over the years not to bore you with what I think. However, I am a father of two, I like to believe I have a shred of common sense, and I simply do not understand why anybody in this country is allowed to purchase and own a semi-automatic assault rifle. These are weapons of war and they have no place in civilian life."

-- Larry Wilmore ("The Nightly Show"): "When the news broke, the people of this nation were unified in a selfless outpouring of support for the victims and their families. Well, it was selfless except for one person," indicating a self-congratulatory tweet by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

-- Seth Meyers ("Late Night") also referenced Trump's tweet (which said "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism...."): "I don't know who's been congratulating Donald Trump, but you may want to redirect your congratulations to the first responders or those waiting in line to give blood. ... I have a feeling Donald Trump's not giving blood, and if he did, no one would want it, because it probably looks like ectoplasm."

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