The last Report has been delivered and Stephen Colbert is on his way to CBS — with his entire writing staff. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premier’s in August/September 2015 so we have a long wait to see the champion of truthiness ply his trade in a new paddock.
He departed without a tear, but with a triumphant chorus of “We’ll meet again” from every famous person who happened to be in New York (literally, from George Lucas to Henry Kissinger). His ratings would have animated the corpse of Johnny Carson with envy. To end on a high is remarkable, and unusual in the entertainment industry. What comes next is a great mystery, and it is perhaps just as well that we have a nine month pregnancy before the birth of the new Late Show. The memories of a show as great as The Colbert Report have to fade before the next project even has a chance at success.
I first came across Stephen Colbert when my brother showed me video of his speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006. It was a time of high anti-Bush fever, and Colbert’s satirical sweep seemed to be a cut above any of the other comics of the time. He seemed to me to be channelling Mark Twain with his style of parody, which unlike most comedians is intrinsically positive.
His character as a fierce right wing pundit may not translate to CBS, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The shows are different, not just in tone and content, but in audience. Comedy Central has a very young viewer-ship, CBS is something more cranky. I do hope however that he does not do what other commentators have predicted and be ‘mellower’, a loathsome word. If he becomes just another white guy on American television, which hitherto he has parodied to great effect, we will really have lost something very dear.
I am hoping to see Colbert in full froth again, and continue to enjoy the sight of politicians and pundits being caught like deer in the head lights of his justice. Long live Stephen Colbert!