In all my years as an adult, the closest I’ve gotten to returning to that ‘Night Before Christmas’ level of excitement came with the premier of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.’ Since the announcement that he would take over for Letterman, it’s been an emotional roller coaster for this Colbert super fan. The joy of knowing he will take on a new role in media; the pain of losing his Comedy Central character (not to mention the end of Jon Stewart’s reign as host of ‘The Daily Show,’ where I actually lied face down on my kitchen floor crying at the announcement of his final show)–I’ve felt it all. Whenever a new article on Colbert’s career came out, I’d rush to the news stands to get any taste of what would arrive on September 8.
A reported 6.6 million viewers flocked to their TVs Tuesday night with the same anticipation–we weren’t sure what to expect. For those of us who grew up with ‘The Colbert Report,’ separating the character from the man is a bit of a struggle. Even with his teaser videos sporadically popping on the Internet this summer, you could still see hints of that self aggrandizing wack-a-doodle from Comedy Central. He took over hosting a local cable show in Michigan, interviewing Eminiem as if he had no idea the rapper was famous, and invited science superstar Neil DeGrasse Tyson to his office just to scold him about demoting Pluto from planet status.These were moments that got us ready for the new show, but still didn’t give us a clear picture of what to expect.
Here’s that Pluto Video:
Based on the September 8 premier of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,’ I’d say many aspects mirrored his previous gig. I doubt Colbert will ever be able to shake the chanting of “Stephen, Stephen” at the start of each show, but what he did shake was the self-centered behaviors of his former character. ‘The Late Show’ has given Colbert a chance to show the more genuine side of his persona–you could see it in his interview with Jeb Bush Tuesday night, where he thanked the presidential candidate over and over for coming onto the show. It wasn’t about his political views, Democrat or republican, but more about the sheer excitement to have a newsworthy, high profile politician joining him on his show.
I’m excited to see how Colbert fares in the late night circuit. He’s only had two shows so far, so finding his flow will take some time. It’s great to see him catering to other fields besides just entertainment (this week he welcomed Jeb Bush, Elon Musk, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick), unlike his predecessors who cater to the more fun and fluffy guests. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a fan of Fallon, who has reinvented the late night circuit in a way with his fun and quirky games, parodies of popular shows, and musical impersonations. As a late night host, you’re required to play off of your personality. That first segment is just you and the camera, and it’s so important to have fun with it. Fallon plays off his talents as a musician and friend; Meyers has embraced a ‘Weekend Update’ vibe that reflects his strengths from ‘SNL.’ It will take Colbert some time to figure out exactly what works best for him–he’s a talented performer, singer, and comedian, with a knack for political commentary, so as his show evolves, we will surely see more of that.
But in terms of his first week, Colbert rocked it. Now we get to sit back and get to know the new Colbert every night at 11:35 p.m. EST on CBS 😉