Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stephen Colbert's Late show a force to be reckoned with...


Balance has been restored to the force...err...late night.

Stephen Colbert premiered his own brand of late night variety show last night to a crowd chanting "Stephen, Stephen, Stephen" ( just as they did on his last show)

Unlike the lackluster premiere of CBS' other late night entry with its ever forgettable host, James Corden, Colbert's show lived up to the hype.

The inaugural episode of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert included guests George Clooney, Presidential candidate Jeb Bush and introduced Jon Batiste and Stay Human (Colbert's house band.)  There were also special appearances in a rousing musical number at the end of the show by: Aloe Blacc, Ben Folds, Buddy Guy, Brittany Howard, Kyle Resnick, Mavis Staples and Derek Trucks.

With a dash of "Colbert Report" wit, Craig Ferguson's interview technique and the class of David Letterman it was a welcome reprieve from the normal late night fare.

Colbert is comfortable in his own skin and entertaining to watch whether he's interviewing an A-list celebrity like George Clooney or lampooning Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

This isn't "The Colbert Report" but it borrows heavily from it.  At one point Colbert even quipped self-deprecatingly that, " I used to play a conservative narcissist, now I'm just a narcissist."

The humor familiar, the wit sharp and the pace steady.  Where other's have adopted the well worn talk show formula of: Monologue, skit, guest interview, musical performance, Colbert has shaken it up a bit.

Gone is the boring 5 minute monologue delivered by someone who looks like they'd rather be anywhere else.  Instead we found a quick review of the nights guests and a satirical rundown of current events styled similarly to "The Colbert Report."  Then, after a "Colbert Report" inspired skit we get to the requisite guest interviews and finally a musical guest where Colbert can often be found joining in.

Yeah, the guy can sing...

He never misses a beat even when interviewing a guest with obvious opposing political views like Jeb Bush.  He may not agree with you but he'll try to find common ground...and make a joke about it if he can.  Best exemplified on last night's show by responding to Bush's comments about President Obama with the "non-zero chance of voting for you" line that was nothing less than classic Colbert.

Which is the primary difference between him and his competition.  He's more satirist than stand-up meaning he's not going for cheap laughs at a machine gun pace.  His content is more thoughtful and far more likely to be the topic of water cooler conversation the next day.

If I were to make a prediction about the show's future at this point,  I'd say it's poised to crush its competition.  It's hip, topical and funny without trying too hard at any of them. 

There's no need for a week long obligation to confirm my opinion like I did for Corden.  Colbert exceeded expectations and I look forward to reacquainting myself with 10:35PM weeknights.