With the exception of Saturday Night Live, late-night comedians have largely steered clear of the ongoing defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
Depp, 58, is suing his ex-wife Heard for $50 million over a December 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote in which she called herself “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” (She did not name Depp as her abuser in the piece.) The Pirates of the Caribbean star initially sued tabloid The Sun for libel in the U.K. for labeling him a “wife beater” but lost—with the judge concluding, “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”
So Depp chose to go after Heard in Virginia court—and make the 36-year-old recount/relitigate the 14 incidents of assault she’d previously alleged against him—due to the state’s weak anti-SLAPP law, which protects freedom of speech. The case has subsequently become comedy fodder for tasteless star-worshippers, as underinformed comics largely have sided with Depp and fallen hook, line, and sinker for his fans’ algorithmically enhanced disinformation campaign. (Depp, who’s denied the abuse allegations, has also accused Heard of abuse—this despite having the benefits of size, power, and a full security detail at his disposal.)
Enter Jimmy Kimmel.
On Tuesday night, during his second show back from COVID leave, the host took it upon himself to make a ridiculous crack about a trial in which Heard has accused Depp of punching her before an appearance on The Late Late Show and penetrating her with a liquor bottle, and Depp is on tape admitting to headbutting her, among other things. (In the U.K. trial, texts emerged between Heard and Depp’s assistant, with Depp’s assistant texting Heard about his then-boss, “When I told him he kicked you, he cried. It was disgusting. And he knows it.”)
Oddly enough, Kimmel made light of it while discussing the GOP primary races in the swing state of Georgia.
“Trump went in big. He’s backing David Perdue for governor because he’s mad at the incumbent, Brian Kemp, because Brian Kemp refused to help him illegally overturn the election. Mike Pence has been stumping for Kemp, who had a big lead going into the voting today,” Kimmel said.
Then, the kicker: “Trump versus Pence—this is like Johnny versus Amber all over again. Nobody wins, you know? All you’re left with is poop in the bed.”
So… Amber Heard is Mike Pence in this scenario?
The “poop in the bed” bit is a reference to Depp’s claim that Heard left poop in their bed the morning after her 30th birthday party as a prank (Heard’s alleged that Depp struck her on the night of that 30th birthday party, and text messages revealed that Depp first accused Heard’s close friend of leaving the poop). It’s largely immaterial to the case, there is next to no evidence proving she did it, and Heard’s team has argued that Depp’s put extreme emphasis on this supposed “prank” in order to embarrass her in the court of public opinion.
Their strategy seems to have worked.