(CNN) -- When tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings happen, late-night hosts have to find ways to carry on - or not - with shows that are meant to be lighthearted. How do you crack jokes on a day when nothing seems funny?
On Monday night, following the blasts that killed three and wounded more than 100 others, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and Conan O'Brien each approached that question in their own way.
O'Brien began his show, "Conan," with a personal note, mentioning right off the bat "what an upsetting and sad day it has been."
"Boston's my hometown -- it's where I grew up, it's where my family lives. So I wanted to take a moment to say that, like everybody here, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and everybody who's been affected by this senseless act."
That said, he continued, "it is our job to do a show. We're going to try and entertain you the very best we can. Which, given our track record, gives you people a 20 percent chance of having a good show tonight."
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On ABC, Kimmel took the same stance, acknowledging the difficulty in attempting to produce entertainment after the horror that the nation had just witnessed.
"Well, it was a terrible day. Very bad things happened today for no good reason - and our thoughts are with the people of Boston and everyone who is suffering as a result of the bombings at the marathon," Kimmel said. "It's a disgusting thing. I don't understand it. But my job is to make you laugh and so I will try to do that. And - I will probably fail. I'm failing already."
On "The Late Late Show," Craig Ferguson seemed to speak the most for everyone when he opened his show with, "is anyone else sick of this?"
"Tonight's show is a little bit different," Ferguson began. "Obviously, the news of today is so horrendous that it would seem insensitive at best to say, 'it's a great day for America,' so I won't be starting the show with that tonight. Is anyone else sick of this s***? I seem to have to say that too often, I have to not say that it's a great day in America for some random act of madness, or terrorism."
Ferguson, too, has history with Boston, as he has family there, his first stand-up special in America was filmed there, and he also spoke at the city's Faneuil Hall on Independence Day after becoming an American citizen in 2008.
"People say to me, Craig, your job is to make people laugh at the end of the day. And yes, I think that's true," he continued. "But I've never professed to be any damn good at that. ... I don't think it's a terrible thing to not want to think about it, but I can't not think about it."
The day's events, he said, were on his mind - and he couldn't pretend otherwise. "I'm not one of those people - I'm not a valuable, quality entertainer," he quipped, as the audience chuckled.
CNN's Henry Hanks contributed to this report.
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