The Colbert Report, I: Looking at the Late Show

By Ryan Matera

Via Ramascreen

I would like to begin my first column writing for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert by saying that I believe the show has begun wonderfully, encapsulating both the political awareness and comedic quality that an ideal late night show should have. Colbert does not build the guest on a pedestal much like many of his contemporaries- he never shies away from making jokes at their expense or pointing out their lavish lifestyles. Colbert’s strongest trait is his political savvy. He has attracted to the show presidential candidates such as Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders, Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon, and was even able to raise the familiarity of supreme court justice Stephen Breyer. Colbert does not merely flatter these officials either- he purposefully and skillfully poses questions that most viewers didn’t even realize we should have been asking.

His most impressive performance of his first week on air came in an interview with CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Elon Musk. Colbert pointed out Musk’s blatant destructive habits toward Nature (blowing up barges and sending thermo-nuclear devices to Mars??) as characteristic of a super villain. At the end of the interview Colbert had Musk point out the need of protecting the planet we’re still on and begin movements toward sustainable research. After the statement Colbert inserted unapologetically, “Well you seem like the right guy to do that”.

This week’s guest provided more opportunity for more insight and a strengthening of Colbert’s sketch performances. In his interview with Justice Breyer, Colbert inquired on why in an age of absolute government knowledge we are still not able to see the process behind a Supreme Court ruling. The conversation that followed addressed how citizens have the right to know what our government is doing but how keeping the rulings private keeps them honest and free from commercial sway. The interview was not an expose or a game, it was an interesting conversation between two influential and intelligent people.

His interview with Trevor Noah was another that was both comedic and informative. It gave the viewer an insight on Noah’s progress with his show and an early look at his abilities on camera. Due to Noah’s background in South Africa the conversation allowed some insight into the freedom we have in the United States and the amount we neglect it.

Another specialty of the show is Jon Batiste and Stay Human. The band features Batiste jamming out on the melodica, as well as a saxophonist with a game-changing mustache. Every time the show returns from break the viewer at home can see the end of some elaborate jam that leaves the crowd riled up, increasing the excitement of the show and making fans want to see it live.

The show may lack the elaborate schemes Colbert used to pull on the Report or a large fan base, but these things will hopefully come in time to create a late night show with an enigmatic host and interesting guests. Be sure to watch the week ahead with Donald Trump, Malala Yusafzai, Elizabeth Warren, and Jim Gaffigan, then read this column in case you don’t know whether it was good or not.

Ryan Matera is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at


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