The news broke earlier today that Stephen Colbert would be replacing David Letterman on CBS’s The Late Show. The Wise Guise discussed it via our normal means – e-mail, text message, and Gchat. While some websites share celebrities’ thoughts, we thought you’d be craving our thoughts, so fear not. Here they are, including a clip from The Colbert Report Joseph hopes is indicative of his future on The Late Show.
Alex: Not crazy about the Colbert/Letterman decision.
Warner: Nor am I. I don’t watch his show. So the odds of me switching from the occasional Fallon to the occasional Colbert is slim. I would have preferred someone with a little more mass appeal. I feel like Colbert has appeal to the political folks and that’s about it.
Alex: True, Warner. I could also see this being a ratings disaster since most of Colbert’s audience is college to early-30’s and tends to DVR or watch him online later. And his usual humor will likely alienate the usual older audience of the 10:30 time slot on network TV.
Warner: The only thing that might work in his favor is how damned successful CBS has been recently, despite putting out shows that are often targeted to a more “dumbed down” audience (No offense.) The problem therein though lies in the fact that Colbert humor is highbrow which CBS humor is not.
Jeremy: As a late night television enthusiast, I was beyond excited to see Colbert taking over for Letterman. I haven’t missed an opening monologue from Fallon or Seth since they started their Tonight Show/Late Night tandem. Now with Colbert in the mix, my poor DVR is going to get a work out!
So now, will the real Colbert please stand up?!
We’ve all come to know the “character” Colbert has played for the last decade on The Colbert Report, but what will the real Colbert be like? I understand that he is playing a character during his interviews over on Comedy Central, but I don’t believe that he’s not just being himself most of the time. So now, I can’t wait to see what he is like as 100% Stephen Colbert. I’m a fan, so I’m looking forward to his new adventure on CBS.
Joseph: I’ve read and heard some mixed reviews from within The Wise Guise and outside about Stephen Colbert’s hiring to replace David Letterman. Before moving on to discuss Colbert, I thought I’d once again point out a post I’ve written recently discussing my love of Letterman in addition to Bill Simmons’ PHENOMENAL tribute to him and his role in late night TV over the past several decades.
As for Colbert’s hire, I’m extremely excited about it. I think he’ll bring something unique and different from Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, while also bringing that built-in younger audience support that prefers watching on DVR-delay or YouTube viral bits the next day.
Some say Colbert’s sardonic satire won’t convey well to traditional late-night network TV. Others say his following is primarily political and therefore won’t succeed on CBS. And although I think Colbert has occasionally constructed conservative straw men only to take them down with his satiric character on Comedy Central, I think he’s still the best possible choice to replace Letterman. Why?
First on the issue of CBS missing the opportunity to make a more historic hire of a minority or female… I would have loved Tina Fey, Chris Rock, or Ellen Degeneres to take the helm. Did they even want it? Could Tina Fey had even left Lorne Michaels and her loyalty to NBC? Who knows? We never will. But I do think CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler was right when she replied, “We talked about everybody. There were a lot of names that came up. All of that was taken into consideration. But his name just stood out above everybody else.”
So why is Colbert the best possible option? Because he is able to skewer politics of all kinds, a necessary ingredient for network late night hosts. Like Jon Stewart, he skews liberal and Democrat due to his audience and personal political persuasions, but he also does bits that go viral on conservative social media pages. Some argue that the political bent itself means he can’t get a mass audience.
But those people must have missed Colbert’s more poignant moments when he breaks character or more surprising moments when his Catholicism proves a religious understanding that takes down atheists on his show. Ultimately, Colbert’s quick wit, intelligence, and good nature make him a great replacement for Letterman. It’s already been made clear that he’ll be hosting as himself, NOT his satirical ultra-conservative character from Comedy Central.
I’m not convinced Colbert’s Late Show will be better than Fallon’s Tonight Show. But it will be special and worth tuning into. And if you wonder the power of Colbert as himself, look no further than this piece from his show when he paid tribute to his recently deceased mother. He’s ready. And I’m excited.