When I heard Stephen Colbert was moving from cable to broadcast television as the host of The Late Show, I was concerned. I was a loyal viewer of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central and loved how Colbert used satire to poke fun at the extreme political pundits that inspired his character.
Here were my concerns: would he host the show as the character “Stephen Colbert?” Would the CBS censors make his material less effective? Would he be forced to do promotional celebrity interviews instead of the informative and thought-provoking conversations with scientists, writers and politicians that were my highlights from The Report?
Three weeks into the new show, I am pleasantly surprised that The Late Show stays relatively true to its roots.
The set includes artifacts from The Report and a lively studio audience that still chants, “Stephen! Stephen!” at the beginning of every show. Colbert delivers jokes in almost the exact same way: sitting at a desk with a pen and notes (for shuffling purposes only), looking straight at the camera while graphics change on the left and pulling out random props from below the huge wrap-around desk. His sense humor, although the satire is less extreme, has the same rhythm, focus on politics and running gags, such as satirical merchandise.
But I am most appreciative of the fact that the majority of Colbert’s guests and interviews have substance. Among the silly anecdotes and movie promotions, Colbert asks interesting questions to people who are important outside of Hollywood.
For example, Colbert’s interview with Vice President Joe Biden during the third episode was a heartfelt and sincere discussion about death and grieving. The 20-minute interview was even more powerful because it was a chance for the audience to see an authentic Stephen Colbert, rather than the host of The Colbert Report. While the other late night hosts compete for views on YouTube with goofy sketches, like “Lip-sync Battles” and “Carpool Karaoke,” the interview with Biden garnered more than two million views because it is moving and sincere.
But I don’t want this to sound like a love letter to Stephen Colbert.
At times his celebrity interviews can be awkward. I don’t find the musical guests impressive. And so far, there have been way too many Donald Trump jokes.
However, he has just fewer than 200 more shows in the first season to work it out.
What makes Colbert stand out from the rest of the (unfortunately all male and mostly white) late night hosts is that his humor is smart. I think most Shorewood students would enjoy it.
by Maeve McKaig