Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (D) guest-hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday night despite the absence of a regular studio audience amid fears of the novel coronavirus, but he managed to crack jokes about President Trump, Sarah Palin, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) as his husband and Kimmel staffers, who watched from the empty seats, cheered him on.
“My name is Pete Buttigieg and I am running to be the next host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Buttigieg said as he opened the show on an admittedly “strange” night, given the absence of a regular studio audience.
Instead, the audience consisted of his husband Chasten, Buttigieg’s friends, and “kind” Kimmel staffers, all of whom were apparently sitting from one another at the CDC’s recommended distance.
It is “disappointing, because as you all know, I love to crowd surf. It’s kinda my thing,” Buttigieg joked.
“The only way we’re going to get through this crisis is with unity. So let’s do this together. Who’s with me?” he asked as the screen cut away to footage of a massive crowd cheering.
“When you don’t have a real audience, you have to fake one. Just like Trump’s inauguration,” he said.
The absence of a live studio audience did not stop Buttigieg from continuing in his awkward roast.
“And look, I know this is a time of great anxiety for our country,” he said.
“But believe me when I say that the resolve of our nation is strong. Our ideals run deep, and America will always be America. In fact, here is living proof of that from last night’s Masked Singer,” he continued as a clip of Sarah Palin singing “Baby Got Back” played.
“That’s going to be me in three months, isn’t it?” he asked.
The former mayor also joked about his failed presidential bid and the buzz on his ability to host a late-night show.
“They’re like, ‘You’re too inexperienced, you’ll never be a good late-night host.’ Well, a lot of people said I’d never get elected president—and I showed them!” he said as the tape cut to celebrities, like Iron Man actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Captain American actor Chris Evans, laughing.
Buttigieg also joked about giving his leftover campaign merchandise to Kimmel’s crew as the camera panned to staffers donning their new “threads.”
“But what can I say? Some candidates know when it’s time to get out of the race, and some candidates are Tulsi Gabbard,” he said, jabbing his former opponent.
“But really, running for president was an amazing experience,” he added. “The support my campaign got was unbelievable and I really thought we had a shot. But turns out I was about 40 years too young and 38 years too gay.”
In an apparent attempt to be self-deprecating, Buttigieg noted that he is currently “unemployed” and therefore decided to take a stroll around the area of Hollywood Boulevard “to see if I could scrounge up some work.”
The clip then showed Pete Buttigieg getting rejected at a pizza place, shaking his head in disappointment at a Hooters and ultimately sitting down for an interview with a pretzel shop.
Buttigieg is now backing former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) presidential bid.