Former Star Trek actor William Shatner, 90, became the oldest man to ever go to space on Wednesday aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepherd rocket – a phallic-shaped spacecraft Jimmy Kimmel labeled a “wienermobile”.
“Can you imagine if Jeff Bezos killed Captain Kirk,” the late-night host said Wednesday evening, “then turned to camera and started speaking Klingon to everyone? I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked.”
Shatner, who for four decades played the leader of the USS Enterprise on the beloved sci-fi series, was handpicked by Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos to make the 11-minute trip into the atmosphere from the west Texas desert. The crew reached a maximum altitude of 66.5 miles, beyond the 100km (62-mile) Kármán Line recognized internationally as the boundary of space.
Given that the mission resulted in just four minutes of weightlessness, “calling them astronauts is like claiming you lost your virginity because you found a Playboy in the woods”, said Kimmel. “It doesn’t count.”
Back on earth, Shatner struggled to put the profundity of his experience into words, while Bezos, 57, interrupted him to beckon to his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, “Give me a champagne bottle!”
“I think this is what you act like when you have $200bn,” said Kimmel. “Poor William Shatner – first no green women in bikinis tried to have sex with him in space, then he gets iced, blown off by Jeff Bezos.
“The whole thing was very over-the-top,” Kimmel continued, adding the launch and narration of it by Amazon employees “felt less like a rocket launch and more like a North Korean news broadcast”.
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah also recapped Shatner’s trip to space with Blue Origin. “If you ask me, 90 is actually the best age to go to space, because what’s the worst that could happen?” he said. “You die? So what? At 90, dying in a rocket is basically best-case scenario.
“I know from down here, it’s starting to seem like going into space is becoming routine. But it’s obviously moving for the people who get to do, because Shatner tried to explain the trip when he got back, and it clearly cut him deep,” Noah said of the actor’s tearful interview upon return, with Bezos by his side.
“I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened,” Shatner said. “It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. It’s so much larger than me and life. It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.”
“I will say, it’s pretty cool that he gave an Amazon review about his trip to an actual Amazon guy,” Noah said.
And on Late Night, Seth Meyers dug into the hypocrisy of Fox News blaming a host of flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines on labor strikes over vaccine mandates. The company, the pilots’ union and the Federal Aviation Administration attributed the chaos – thousands of cancelled flights over the weekend, stranding travelers for days – to numerous factors including weather, air traffic control and antiquated scheduling technology.
“But that hasn’t stopped some on the right from spreading the baseless claim anyway,” Meyers said. Senator Ted Cruz, for example, blamed the cancellations on Biden’s “illegal vaccine mandate” on Twitter, while Tucker Carlson called it a “direct consequence” of Biden’s vaccine mandate on Fox News, even as the Southwest Airlines Pilots Union president, Casey Murray, appeared on the same network and said a “sickout” had nothing to do with the cancellations.
“Do you guys even watch your own network?” Meyers wondered. “That would be like if I came out here and said, ‘Chicago doesn’t have fires.’ Or if I said, ‘In the criminal justice system, the people aren’t represented by two separate but equally important groups,’” he added before the trademark “dun-dun” sound of Law & Order.
“It’s especially rich for Fox hosts to applaud employees for standing up against vaccine or testing requirements when their own company has much stricter requirements,” he continued. In fact, Fox’s vaccine policy goes further than Biden’s, requiring daily Covid testing for employees who refuse to get vaccinated (the Biden administration requires weekly testing), and compelling workers to disclose their vaccination status.
“The hypocrisy here is brazen,” said Meyers.