Stephen Colbert begins ‘Late Night’ with huge success on CBS



Jessica Murphy

The newest obsession has hit T.V. airways as Stephen Colbert began his run as CBS’s “Late Night” host. Not surprisingly, the massive event threw Colbert, 51, into the race for the top late-night spot with huge success. 

Despite fierce competition from Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, among others, the long awaited arrival of David Letterman’s replacement has been seemless. Bringing in over 6.6 million viewers on its debut night, “Late Night with Stephen Colbert” has finally solved the burning curiosity surrounding who the “real” Colbert is.

Colbert is largely known for his satirical right-wing persona on the popular “Colbert Report,” a role which confused many about the difference between acting and his true personality. On Tuesday, Colbert put that character to rest and even quipped that he himself did some soul searching for his latest gig, adding “I hope I don’t find him on Ashley Madison.” As the first week continued to impress, Colbert was welcomed with chants of his name reasserting that no matter who the real Stephen was, he was here to stay.

While he was clearly nervous, Colbert settled into the host role quickly and eagerly. Much like Fallon and Kimmel, Colbert is charming, quick-witted and full of enthusiasm making for a lovable host you can’t stop listening to. 

However, the similarities ended there. Throughout the first few episodes, Colbert has made it clear he’s not looking to be anything like the other late night hosts. Nor is he changing his own interests for the sake of network television. Rather, Colbert will be the one who changes how we view late night. He is turning late night into something that matters.

With the recent success of Jimmy Fallon, it seems that late night television only consists of viral videos of celebrities lip-syncing or playing drinking games. It’s fun, lighthearted and looking for a quick laugh from the audience. 

Don’t get me wrong; I love these videos just as much as the next person, but Colbert proved that a show doesn’t need to follow this theme to still be entertaining.

Colbert uses his political background to his advantage for segments within his show. After all, it is the most significant advantage he has over his competitors. However, Colbert is changing the script to better align these political skits to relate to the larger general audience in a witty, intelligent way. 

In the first few sketches of the show, Colbert humorously criticizes everything from Trump’s refusal to eat Oreos, to ridiculing presidential candidate’s excessive merchandise sites by launching his own “Undecided candidate” line.

The emphasis on political satire in “Late Night” opens up the very real issues surrounding important cultural and social events in a fun, entertaining way. But Colbert has challenged himself in his new role by making the show a balance of different themes through his own skits and interviews with not only celebrities, but also  with businessmen and political figures. 

His first week of guests included mega-celebrities like Amy Schumer to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Colbert jokily addressed all the late-night “norms” head-on during each show, including the apparent close relationships between celebrities and hosts. George Clooney, the first guest on the show, was offered an “I don’t know you” engraved paperweight wedding gift that showed Colbert can handle interviewing the hundreds of big name celebrities he admittedly, well, doesn’t know. 

Naturally, Colbert was not perfect in every aspect of the show, and some skits flopped more than others (looking at you, Sabra Hummus). 

But Colbert clearly shines in interviews, and is not afraid to ask guests uncomfortable or hard questions. 

Colbert is the host that blatantly asks Jeb Bush how he will be different from his brother if he’s President, all while keeping a quick-witted attitude that keeps the situation from getting overly serious.

Most importantly, Colbert seems okay with having some skits or interviews that aren’t funny. When Vice President Joe Biden visited, Colbert brought up the tragic death of Biden’s son Beau. 

It quickly turned into an exchange that recognized both men’s difficult experiences with loss in a very poignant, moving way. It wasn’t political, and it wasn’t full of gags, but it was still an interview that made an impression on the viewer. 

It is segments like this that will win Stephen Colbert the top spot in late night television. It is also why we need someone like him in that spot. 

When highlights appear in the morning news, they aren’t about a celebrity’s new relationship but rather something of more substance. 

Colbert is breaking the mold on what late night television is supposed to be, and making it all his own to prove late night is relevant again.