By Ryan Matera
On Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the Late Show to see guests Malala Yousafzai and Kerry Washington as well as Dan Auerbach’s side project, The Arcs. Under the projection dome, Jon Batiste would rock out during commercial breaks and it seemed clear that Stephen Colbert had officially settled into his new role. The excitement and the surprise visible backstage in the first week was replaced with familiarity and expectation. Between breaks, Stephen was larger than life as he was surrounded by crewmen going over notes.
Being in the crowd is not so much watching an episode as it is experiencing the production process unfold. It’s difficult not to be amazed at the amount of work it takes to make an episode happen and even more so at the amount Colbert is managing at once. It unfortunately pointed out how rigid the structure of the show had become. At first him playing around with monologue lengths and trying different bits seemed to show hope for the Late Show game, but after a while it has become just as predictable as most comedy shows.
Stephen has continued to invite guests that are politically stimulating and has used his power as entertainer for positive reasons. His interview with Trump was not overly aggressive but still put him on the spot for decisions he has made and views he holds. Dr. Ernie Moniz, an otherwise unknown nuclear-physicist who was crucial in the Iran Nuclear Deal, had the chance to explain logistics of the deal and assuage concerns that the agreement may not last. In his time with Elizabeth Warren we heard a liberal economic standpoint and learned what a top politician sees as the future of American politics.
He has also been able to appeal to different crowds when he sat down with Steph Curry, Kerry Washington, Malala Yousafzai, and the founder of the Global Citizens music festival featuring Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Beyonce, and Ed Sheeran. The show also maintained its bite as musical guest Raury danced on stage with a Mexico jersey with the name Trump crossed out on the back- all on the same episode with Donald Trump.
One show that held a certain nostalgia towards the Report was Thursday night’s “Popisode” honoring Pope Francis’ presence in the city. He danced around with a cardboard cut out of the Pope, held a panel on Catholicism in America featuring Maria Shriver and Jim Gaffigan, and had the Jerusalem Youth Chorus sing a few songs. The episode reached to play out as a special, much like his election or other themed episodes in the past, but perhaps due to it being on an hour late because of Thursday Night Football or some unexciting guests it did not play out as well as it could have. The episode still shows hope for future stunts and the week as a whole showed the steady rise of Stephen Colbert as our next great Late Night host.
Ryan Matera is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org