The Colbert Report: January 7, 2008
So, for those of you who missed it, the audience wouldn't shut up, Colbert tried to politely quiet them down, that didn't work, Colbert actually walked into the audience and forcibly pushed a few people back into their seats. Scarily enough, that only sort of, kind of worked. The man could have ran in there, slit the throats of everyone in the first row, and the audience would have continued cheering like he was firing t-shirts into the crowd. Either people were desperate to have Colbert back, or the Colbert Nation has continued rapidly slipping into cult country.
Gallery: Stephen Colbert
Now, Colbert, unlike Jon Stewart, is a full-on improvisational comedian with a background in Chicago's Second City. Ever seen that episode Colbert did for Who's Line Is It Anyway? Everyone should see that if only to check out how strangely touchy-feely he was with Wayne Brady. Anyway, Colbert's improv skills definitely came in handy, because the flow of the show seemed to go better than that of The Daily Show. That said, Stewart's jokes were much more biting and, um, satirical? That seems like the wrong word to use, but Stewart didn't have a character to filter his anger through and it made his show much more raw. That seems like the wrong word too. I'm starting to feel like I'll need to run through some SAT flashcards before finding the perfect way to describe it. Let's just say that Stewart couldn't have gotten away with an improvised explanation about how the TelePrompter is really a mind-reader.
Colbert, still in character, mind you, explained that he was back on the air only because he hates unions. To prove his point, he ran some clips of anti-union sentiments from previous episodes. Ahh, looks TCR will probably be going with the clip-dominated route to fill time. He also attempted to magic (or pray) a WORD onto the screen, but that didn't work for some reason. Hmm.
The first guest of the night was Andrew Sullivan, who was there not to talk about the strike, but his fanboy love for Barack Obama. I must say, even though Obama has refused to come on TCR, Sullivan's super pro-Obama stance was really the next best thing for Obama's campaign. Maybe he'll get a pseudo-"Colbert bump". Colbert was really in his element during this interview. He seemed cool through most of the episode, but there was no sign of uneasiness when he was dealing with guests. It's that old Second City stuff coming back, I'm sure.
The second guest of the night came on at, like, 11:58PM, which made me feel terrible for the guy, because I thought he was going to get about one minute of screentime. Like I said, the overexcited audience at the top of the show ended up pushing everything into overtime, so this fellow got a normal interview. The guest was Richard Freiman, giggliest man alive, who was there not to talk about Barack Obama, but the strike. Again, Colbert was on his game, and the interview went well.
It was a good show and only felt a little bit different from a normal episode, but it'll be interesting to see how far Colbert can push his improvisational skills through the rest of the strike. I'm guessing that any time not filled with improv goodness will be clip-heavy or be dedicated to an interview, whereas Daily Show is going to rely more on Jon's rants and weird graphics (which still worry me a bit because the seem a little too prepared).