Conan O'Brien

Late-night jokesters get serious about shootings in Orlando

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 is what a number of these hosts did Monday night, opening their...