The wait is over, y’all: Stephen Colbert has made his Late Show hosting debut and it was everything we hoped for and more. And, no, Mom and Dad, Colbert swears he’s not trying to “replace” David Letterman.
Colbert was all jokes and giddiness during his first hour on network late night — and it couldn’t have been more fabulous. From an Ashley Madison joke to teasing about selling his soul to get the job, Colbert did everything he could to keep his old fans laughing and Late Show regulars intrigued by the new face and strange skits offered up. Of course, as much as we love Colbert, it was much more interesting to watch him chat with Jeb Bush and George Clooney than to shove hummus into his face.
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Obviously, the biggest question was: How did Colbert treat the guests? After years of watching him hammer away at politicians and celebrities (usually promoting something or speaking on a cause), we wondered if he’d bring that same thoughtfulness to the Late Show. Honestly, with Clooney’s appearance we were a little worried. They kept it lighthearted and goofy, highlighting the fact that Clooney didn’t really have anything to promote and Colbert didn’t actually know the famous actor that well. Still, Clooney is incredibly active with multiple charities and his wife is a major player in her own right. We think things could have been a little more serious, if Colbert had pushed for them.
Colbert turned the tables a bit for Jeb Bush, though. Bush and Colbert chatted almost entirely on what Bush thought he could bring to the White House and, more importantly, the polar divide within our country. Colbert even got Bush to admit that he thought President Obama comes to his job with good intentions. (Though, he went on to say he didn’t think he was executing things properly.) Where Colbert failed, though, was when talking about education. Bush said he wanted to change American education, but when Colbert asked him how he thought he could, he didn’t hold Bush to giving a real answer. Still, for a comedy show interviewing a massive political figure, Colbert did a decent job balancing realness with entertainment. Seems like an excellent sign of things to come.
The most touching part of Colbert’s debut, though, came early on. Colbert recognized that while he’d no doubt bring in a ton of fans from his Comedy Central days, he’d also have to find a way to cater to the previous Late Show viewers. He did just that when he sat down and admitted Letterman could never be replaced. The longtime comedian spoke candidly on his love for his predecessor and promised he would never try to replace Letterman, only live up to his high mark on the doorframe of late night comedy.
Our favorite joke of the night
“Just like the rest of the media, I’ll be covering all of the candidates… who are Donald Trump.”
Our favorite cameo
Jon Stewart as the umpire… during the singing of the national anthem. (And Ben Folds.)
Our favorite part of the new set
Obviously the return of Captain America’s shield.
Most fantastic hashtag affiliated with the new show
As a (very) belated wedding present to Clooney, Colbert gave him a gorgeous silver paperweight from Tiffany & Co. Engraved on the heavy hunk of metal? “I don’t know you.” It was funny, and Clooney took it like a pro. But, it also became everyone’s favorite part of the night. Just check out the #IDontKnowYou feed.
Worst part of the premiere
So much product placement and too many commercials! From Sabra to Oreos, product placement was everywhere. Add in the ton of commercial breaks and it soon felt like the entire Late Show was just one massive commercial.
It’ll calm down next week, though. Right?
Well done, Colbert. See you tomorrow!