MIDTOWN — Dave Letterman couldn't get a laugh Monday night — even if he tried.
"The Late Show" host and NBC jokester Jimmy Fallon each taped their shows without audiences on Monday as Hurricane Sandy barreled through the East Coast, making it impossible to fill the seats in their studios.
Without applause and laughter, both shows took on a surreal tone. Each funnyman delivered punchlines to jokes in near silence, with the occasional snickers from camera crews.
In typical ironic fashion, Letterman went through what would have been his monologue at his desk in Ed Sullivan Theater.
"So here are the jokes if we had had an audience," Letterman said. "I'd come out and say, well, so much for the drought."
"That would have been a funny opening right there," responded "The Late Show" bandleader, Paul Schaefer.
Fallon squirmed through his opening monologue after taking the stage at 30 Rockefeller, with cameras panning over the empty seats.
"Welcome to 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.' Please, please, keep it down," he said in his intro.
After he did an impersonation, he wondered whether it was pointless.
"Well, I'm assuming that people at home will be watching either on their laptops or get their generators out. ... And they're going to want to leave room for laughs," he quipped.