Reviews for the first week of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert have been mostly mixed, in part because critics need an angle and are quick to judge when it’s a slow news week. It’s not that everyone doesn’t love him — they do — it’s just that some are wondering if Stephen Colbert — outside of his Colbert Report personae — is too nice for late night. Can he compete with Fallon if he doesn’t have the viral injections of celebrity games? And when it comes to interviewing celebrities, Colbert apparently comes up short because he’s more comfortable interviewing politicians, authors, tech folks, and other thinkers.
Is that really a bad thing? Granted, I haven’t been in love with his comedy segments so far, but that interview with Joe Biden last week? That’s one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen in late night, and it’s so refreshing to have a little substance and depth in late night again. I’ll stick with Kimmel when it comes to celebrity interviews,because he’s a prickly bastard (at least by current late night standards), but most celebrity interviews will be forgotten by the next morning. Colbert actually has the ability to make substantive interviews go viral, and that’s something that is relatively novel in late night.
However, Colbert may have also been listening to some of the concerns critics have had with his niceness last week, which may be why he returned to the old Colbert Report format last night, excoriating Donald Trump in perfect Colbertian fashion.
The desk may be different, but the format is still the same.
As for those celebrity interviews? A vomit-off with Emily Blunt sure beats one of Fallon’s over-the-top fawnfests, doesn’t it?