The death knell is ringing louder every day for Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Sure, we’ll see Stephen Colbert regularly once David Letterman hands over the reins to The Late Show on CBS next spring, but whether we’ll see glimpses of the hilarity found in TCR remains to be seen.
So, while we still have a handful of shows left, I want to make sure we all appreciate what we’re looking at while we still can:
1. Stephen Colbert, the character
No one knows for sure if the real Stephen Colbert is actually funny enough to fill Letterman’s topsiders. We do know, however, that the character he has sustained for nine years is what Jon Stewart has called a “well-intentioned idiot.” Somebody had to embody hard-right conservatives, if only to take the heat of the many late-night punch lines during the George Dubya Bush White House.
2. The slew of other characters
What happens when a character steps into another character? Comedy magic, that’s what. Colbert often steps outside of his red state to play the likes of Esteban Colberto, Ching Chong Ding Dong and even Wilford Brimley.
3. The Wørd(s)
Inspired (or disgusted) by Bill O’Reilly’s “Talking Points,” this segment mangles the English language on purpose to get the topical point across. Gems such as truthiness, lincolnish, flagophile and factose intolerant were born in the name of poking fun at broadcast journalists everywhere.
4. The dancing
I don’t know if it’s simply his moves or it has more to do with the fact that his persona is tighty-righty, but when Stephen Colbert dances, magic happens — like Ellen, only better. He’s busted a move with Ashton Kutcher, Hugh Laurie, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, and he even came close to doing a grind in Henry Kissinger’s general direction.
5. ”Better Know a District”
What better way to mine for material than to spend quality time with real-life U.S. Representatives? Truth proved to be funnier than fiction more times than I can count. We saw Colbert drink from beer bongs, leg wrestle and toss salmon with the best that D.C. has to offer.
6. The Fist Bump
It’s so un-Washington, and that’s what I like about it.
7. The grand entrance
The energy level alone of a studio audience rising to its feet and chanting “STE-PHEN, STE-PHEN!” every nigh, is worth a mention. Maybe if we were all greeted that way, we’d perform better, too. Something to consider.
My personal favorite? “Anderson Cooper, gay? Come on. If that man is gay, then I’m secretly a liberal.”
9. Live boozing
Jack Daniels, anyone? Bud Light Lime? When Stephen throws back a stiff one, it’s with purpose. Sure, Andy Cohen and Kathie Lee & Hoda do it, too, but the contact buzz isn’t nearly as potent.
Adding insult to injury is that we are heading into an election cycle, folks. While I don’t doubt that there will be enough fodder for late-night hosts everywhere, it’s the comedic high-wire act of The Colbert Report that this card-carrying voter will miss come November 2016.