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The Very Last Late Late Show: Did James Corden Get a Fitting Sendoff?

Tom Cruise didn’t show up for the Academy Awards, but he did show up for the very last episode of The Late Late Show With James Corden — or rather, The Last Last Late Late Show With James Corden Carpool Karaoke Special.

Confused? Allow us to explain…

CBS gave Corden a two-hour sendoff split between primetime and late-night. The affair kicked off at 10 pm and featured a pair of pre-taped skits: First up, Cruise and Corden surprised an unsuspecting audience at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, appearing as Timon and Pumba in Disney’s The Lion King musical. They even performed “Hakuna Matata” in its entirety!

After a very scripted falling out, the star-crossed showbiz friends sang “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” which managed to reawaken both our Rock of Ages *and* Cats PTSD.

That was followed by one last Carpool Karaoke with encore guest Adele.  The setlist included “Rolling in the Deep,” “Love Is a Game,” “I Drink Wine,” “Hometown Glory” and Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”

Come 12:37 am, The Late Late Show Proper kicked off with a pre-taped sketch starring a cavalcade of late-night hosts. The segment began with Corden waking up to find Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel in his bedroom, there to ensure he won’t reveal any hosting secrets once he’s officially out of the game.

That trio was later joined by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, the latter of whom commanded Corden to grow a beard in his retirement. More specifically, “a huge beard, one that says ‘God spoke to me from a bush.'” Right on cue, the camera panned over to David Letterman and his biblical facial hair seated in the corner. (Trevor Noah also put in a cameo at the end.)

Fun fact: The skit marked Letterman’s first appearance on a CBS late-night show since he left The Late Show in 2015. He has since appeared three times on both NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, but has never sat down with Craig Ferguson or Late Show successor Colbert.

Corden then welcomed the night’s previously announced guests — Harry Styles, who somehow made mustard corduroy look good, and Will Ferrell, who used his time on the couch to ask important questions like “What are the Grammys?”

Next came a series of “thank you”s to everyone who has helped keep Corden’s Late Late Show going for eight years: “I sit here now today with nothing but love, gratitude and pride. This show is everything I ever wanted it to be. I’m just one part of a big team who make this show, this incredible family here.”

And what would a farewell from Corden be without one last musical number? The host ended his final night on TV seated at the piano, struggling to maintain his composure while singing an original song about everything he’ll miss. One line seemed to get him particularly worked up: “As the end of the show fast approaches, and I gaze at the studio floor, we filled it with thousands of moments, and now there won’t be any more.”

In fact, here’s a little behind-the-scenes scoop: Corden actually had to pause this performance as his emotions got the better of him. “It’s difficult to do when you can hear physical weeping,” he joked. (Except, you know, it wasn’t a joke.)

As previously reported, Corden’s sendoff marks the end of the Late Late Show franchise, which began in 1995 with original host Tom Snyder and continued with Craig Kilborn (1999-2004), Ferguson (2005-2014) and Corden (2015-2023).  The post-Colbert time slot will soon be filled by a reboot of former Comedy Central gameshow @Midnight (host TBA).

What did you think of James Corden’s Late Late Show sendoff? Grade it via the following poll, then leave a review in Comments.

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