NEW YORK A week after Halloween, Jon Stewart is discussing what he calls the "Double Walk of Shame."
"It's embarrassing enough to see someone walking home at 8 a.m. from a one-night stand, but to see someone make that same journey dressed as a wrinkled zebra?"
Stewart first cracked this joke last week on "The Daily Show." Just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, he's telling it again.
This does not bode well for night owls.
The Comedy Central rerun is an instant effect of the writers strike that left every major late-night show without its snarky scribes. If history is any indication, this walkoff could last a loooong time: Hollywood writers previously went on strike in 1988 ... for 22 weeks.
How will late-night TV watchers make it through a potentially months-long spell without fresh offerings from Stewart, David Letterman, Jay Leno and, if they stay up REALLY late, Conan O'Brien?
There's hope yet: A little late-night channel-surfing (away from the networks) turned up a few post-local news shows that offer more humor intentional or not than one might think.
• ABC's "Nightline": The trusty program which goes up against Leno and Letterman is likely thanking its lucky stars for the strike, which could generate viewers for its hard-hitting news segments. Or it's not-so-serious stories (Exhibit A: Wednesday's Ryan Seacrest profile).
"I get lonely, but there are four of me. And so I spend time with the rest of mes and we talk about our day," Seacrest, who has like 35 jobs, says of his nonstop work schedule. The "American Idol" host adds, for the record, that he's not gay.
• CNBC's "Mad Money": Motormouth host Jim Cramer brings a welcome dose of ADD to the business channel, dispensing financial advice and stock tips with the combustible passion of Al Pacino in "Any Given Sunday."
The one-time hedge fund manager, however, is momentarily distracted when a call-in viewer goes off the subject to observe what she loves most about him: he rolls up his sleeves and shrugs his shoulders when talking to a "pretty girl" on the phone.
"I didn't call you to flirt I have a stock tip," she said, prompting laughter from unseen people in the studio.
• Anything on MTV: The music-channel-that's-not-really-a-music-channel is always there when people need it especially late at night. Its constantly rotating stable of addictive reality shows offer substance-free entertainment when thinking requires too much effort. On this night, viewers are treated to back-to-back episodes of "Run's House," "The Real World" and "The Hills."
"Run's House," a rip-off of "The Osbournes" starring the family of rapper Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, is delightfully banal. The latest drama? Run lets his daughter get a tattoo, but does so begrudgingly: "My heart is beating so fast. This is CRAZY. ... You want to write on your skin so everyone can see?"
• Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern": This guy will eat just about anything, which makes for irresistible viewing. Zimmern finds the holy grail of culinary curiosities in the Philippines, where he takes a deep breath and slurps down a sauteed giant worm that might as well be served on "Fear Factor."
"I don't know what those things ate, but they didn't digest it very well," Zimmern says, grimacing.
"Better eaten raw," his dinner companion responds.
• The Sci-Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters": Real-life ghostbusters investigate homes that people believe are haunted. In one particularly spooky episode, Linda Johnson of Albany, N.Y., summons members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society to rid her home of "a bad ghost" that once grabbed her by the throat.
"We're being watched. ... I can feel it," she says. (Wonder what Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd would say to that.)
• "Hannah Montana": Don't judge. This Disney Channel sitcom, a favorite among tweens and maybe a few ahem adults, stars Miley Cyrus as a bubbly teen who secretly moonlights as the singing sensation Hannah Montana. Wednesday's 11:30 p.m. repeat ends with Miley/Hannah's friend Lilly dumping shrimp cocktail sauce over the head of a two-timing boyfriend.
• Want more grown-up girl power? Click over to TBS, where sanitized reruns of "Sex and the City" appear several times a week. And late at night.