Colbert changes the game
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, October 1, 2015
As a sports junkie, most of my TV viewing takes the form of football and so when my friend invited me to watch the inaugural episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” I was a little skeptical.
I was skeptical not because I am a talk show virgin (Craig Ferguson, check him out), but because after years of watching Leno and Letterman making tame jokes about the President, I questioned the relevance of the genre.
What I saw on Mr. Colbert’s first show, however, gave me hope for the future of late-night TV.
His Donald Trump Oreo bit had me laughing out loud, his demented conversation with his sponsor was refreshing, and the closing song had just enough spunk to make it memorable. The most important part of the show, however, was his interview with Jeb Bush.
The interview with Bush, for whatever reason, gave Colbert legitimacy not as a comedian, but as a person to be listened to, and this is what Colbert brings to the table that other hosts do not.
Part of it certainly comes from the tremendous following from his Comedy Central days, but part of it also comes from the political guests he has.
Colbert has interviewed Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Bernie Sander, Ted Cruz and Joe Biden all in the span of his first month, and this slew of guests adds some desperately needed legitimacy to the late-night landscape.
Yes, politicians go on other late shows, but Colbert gives it a different vibe. When’s the last time you saw Jimmy Fallon have a soul-searching interview with the Vice President? While other hosts use comedy for comedy’s sake, Colbert uses it to give his viewers a better understanding of the people that matter.
Now, none of this is to say that Colbert is perfect. Far from it. His most obvious flaw is his liberal bias. When interviewing Ted Cruz, Colbert asked the senator if he would ever compromise with the opposite side since his views are so extreme. This question was absent when self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders was on.
What I am saying is that Colbert feels different. He can be as lighthearted as Fallon, he has oodles more charisma than Meyers, and God help us all with James Corden.
And it’s possible that Colbert is still in the honeymoon phase. History shows that a new late-night show usually enjoys higher ratings for a period of time.
Even if it proves to be brief, Colbert has injected some excitement back into late-night TV.