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November 26, 2014

The Colbert Report: January 7, 2008

by Annie Wu, posted Jan 8th 2008 11:19AM
Stephen ColbertWithout a doubt, the Colbert Nation was relieved and excited to have their favorite faux-Stephen Colbert back on the air, even if it was in the form of The ColberT ReporT (hard T's means it's a different sort of show without the writers, folks). The in-studio audience made their feelings evident through an obnoxiously long ovation that ended up running the first airing past midnight and into 12:05AM. TiVos around the nation were heard weeping at that moment. All subsequent airings cut out a huge chunk of the ovation and replaced it with big, bold, white text saying, "TWO MINUTES LATER".

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.

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).

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ac

I thought Colbert would of been happy with the ovation. Without material you need to waste time. That said I could tell he had a background in improv since the show started. I mean the whole interview with Jane Fonda he needed to be quick on his feet. However my favorite part of the show is the WORD. And I was excited to see a new one when the graphic came up. Then nothing :(

January 08 2008 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

I still have to watch this one yet, but...thank you so much, Annie! I love all the TV Squad recaps, so the much-wanted addition of this one just made my day. :D

January 08 2008 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jake

Thanks for starting a review of ColberT ReporT. Hopefully you will continue if and when it returns to being the Colbert Report. I for one thought Colbert was much more palatable than Stewart. I was excited to watch A daily show at first, but man does that show need writing!

January 08 2008 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam

Hmm, I thought the obnoxiously long ovation was a comedy bit, did they actually cut part of it out in later airings?

January 08 2008 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adam's comment
Tamaryn

I too thought it was a comedy bit. I love Colbert, and Colbert did a great job, but yet, it was missing something - something important - something.... oh I know...writers.

January 08 2008 at 6:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Zachary

Thank you for starting a review of the Colbert Report, Annie. (this is the first, right?)
I wanted to slay the audience when they wouldn't shut up. it totally kills the momentum leading off the show. To me, loving Colbert means you shut up, sit down, and let him talk. I am afraid this will become a trend as future audiences will try to out-cheer the previous audience.

January 08 2008 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Zachary's comment
info

I guess it is like every actor's wet dream, tho.

January 08 2008 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

Well, I'm no expert on the rules (from what I can tell, there's no such thing), but I think that the basic guidelines they're following is that preparation is within the boundaries, so graphics and edited montages are all right. I think they are considering writing to be anything that would appear on a TelePrompTer, has been rehearsed with a script or written and memorized. But working from a rough outline or a rough concept of the punchline is all right (or at least they're treating it as such).

That being said, I'm pretty sure they are both at least somewhat relying on their popularity amongst people generally in favor of the writers to insulate them from criticism when they hit those grey areas.

January 08 2008 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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