Stephen’s back, and it’s a wonderful sight to behold. What I love most about this first episode is the fact that we get to see a genuinely excited Stephen Colbert, a guy who finally gets to be himself after years and years of playing “a narcissistic conservative pundit”. Now he’s “just a narcissist”, and we can see in every movement just how happy he is to be here. This is someone who’s building a late night show around pure talent and personality, not around the generic celebrity gushing that seems to dominate much of the country’s cultural conversation. This version of The Late Show is a blend of old and new, and it’s exactly what the format needs as we move forward.
The series premiere itself does stumble a little, most noticeably during the show’s opening fifteen minutes; Colbert does fine with the monologue, but the jokes are a bit weak and the Mentalist cutaways don’t quite work for me. Even so, Colbert comes into this show more assured and comfortable than I’ve seen from other first-timers, and once he gets into his Donald Trump Oreo binge, it’s absolute comedy gold. It’s nice to see that he’s still bringing the political commentary, as that is obviously him in his element. That sequence paired with the strange amulet hummus product placement convinced me that Colbert’s still Colbert, that this show will bring out that fun and nerdy guy in him.
As for the interviews, Colbert does have a habit of rushing from topic to topic and cutting people off in this premiere, but it’s understandable seeing as the episode already runs long. As he gets into his groove, the editing will undoubtedly become less noticeable, and he’ll have a better sense of how to fit things into an allotted time. Here, I would’ve liked to see more Jeb! and less Clooney, but they’re both really enjoyable interviews that give us just a taste of what’s to come. If Colbert continues with brilliant questions like the one he asks Jeb! about his brother, then these interviews will be well worth watching. And right now, I know for sure that this show is worth watching. Stephen Colbert deserves this, and I have no doubt that he’s going to put on an excellent run. Have fun watching, Nation.
-News flash, Jeb: that spending was due to the Iraq War.
-Lots and lots of people in that final song: Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes), Ben Folds, etc.
-This was cut from the Jeb Bush interview:
-Jon Stewart cameo! Jon Stewart executive producer credit!
-I really like the brief Jimmy Fallon bits in this episode. Also, speaking of Jimmy Fallon, I’m disappointed–but not surprised–that Trump is going to be appearing on his show and not on Stephen’s.
-I’m a sucker for all things Supreme Court, so I’m really excited to see that Stephen Breyer interview next week (plus, Run the Jewels is performing the following night!). Here’s to a great first few weeks and to a fantastic late night run for Colbert. I’m looking forward to it.
Photo credit: CBS, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert