I had wondered just what Stephen Colbert would be able to do when he took over hosting The Late Show on CBS from David Letterman. His character, the narcissistic right-wing pundit, supposedly, was gone. His guestlist would become decidedly more A-List Hollywood and less quirky authors and really interesting, though not known, people.
He would become the classic network late-night host and do all the classic network late-night host stuff: monologues, celebrity interviews, funny (though kinda mainstream) bits, house band, musical guests. Well, that is exactly what he has done. Thing is, he is still Stephen Colbert, and the character isn’t entirely gone, just the faux right-wing parts.
That means CBS has given a man known for getting people to say things they wouldn’t say to anyone else access to the A-List. So far it has paid off, last night in a big way. Colbert was interviewing Elon Musk, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors as well as CEO and CTO of SpaceX. It’s the latter role mentioned that the two were talking about when Musk dropped the bomb, or rather, talked about dropping a few nuclear bombs…on Mars.
When Colbert asked him about ways to make Mars hospitable for colonization, Musk told him that there was a quick way and a slow way. Colbert pressed him for the quick way and got this response:
Of course, this clip is being shared. Colbert has found a way to adapt to the classic late night talk show format and still get the most interesting responses from at least some of his guests. Sure, you’ll have to deal with him being cheesy with the likes of George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson, but the payoff is clips like this one with Musk and some damn fine musical performances like this one by Kendrick Lamar.
(Also, kudos to CBS and Global here in Canada for not pulling national copyright on video clips that are meant to be shared wherever you happen to be watching them from.)
So, is The Late Show with Stephen Colbert the same as The Colbert Report? No. Not at all. It’s a mainstream talk show.
Does it have the same vibe and originality? So far, yes. And that has surprised me. Maybe letting Stephen Colbert take over network Late Night could be a good thing, a very good thing.