Stephen Colbert lets loose on A Late Show Live following the RNC convention
It’s been a tough year to have to cover the news, and even late-night comedy shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS are starting to show it.
Stephen is sort of—yet not quite—back in his office to film his weeknight program after months hosting his show from home, but even a return to something slightly closer to normal hasn’t stopped him from showing just how much the news of the day isn’t a laughing matter.
Following both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention, The Late Show has aired live. The show has also temporarily called itself “A Late Show Live” to keep in with the “we’re not quite back to the regular show” sort of theme.
While monologues for both sets of live shows have been introduced with a hilarious spoof of Avengers: Endgame, RNC week has been far less about the jokes and more about the host’s utter and complete bafflement and frustration at the state of things.
That’s not to say that Colbert’s Late Show has been lacking in comedy or entertainment value overall—just that Stephen Colbert is clearly fed up, just like many of his viewers. He’s just not filtering that frustration or sugar-coating it with humor anymore.
Stephen Colbert’s RNC coverage has been all fire and zero holding back
The first sign that Colbert might be done with the nonsense, not to mention completely out of you-know-whats to give, came during the Aug. 25 interview with former Congressman Trey Gowdy.
We’ve talked about Stephen Colbert’s “unique ability to connect with interview subjects” in the past, but there wasn’t a whole lot of connection to be made with Gowdy. Even when the conversation kicked off with the former politician from South Carolina thanking Stephen for all he’d done for South Carolina’s teachers, The Late Show’s host, normally happy to discuss his home state, made quick work of thanking Gowdy for the praise and moving on.
One of the first questions the usually warm comedian asked his guest was what he was even doing there, especially since he’d previously been hard on Gowdy. That question was then followed up with “what the h*** is going on in the Republican party?” As the interview continued with Gowdy constantly making excuses and stumbling all over his words, Stephen Colbert’s total irritation became undeniable.
But it was the Aug. 26 edition of “A Late Show Live” that really sent home the message that Stephen Colbert was well and truly over all things Republican National Convention and, really, the entire party. His monologue, often a source of laughs even in the darkest of times, was a scathing takedown of epic proportions. This came even after Colbert made it very clear that he hadn’t even watched that night’s convention footage and had no interest whatsoever.
Because right now, in America, we are facing a global pandemic that has killed 180000 Americans, heavily-armed Rambo-wannabes are murdering people in our streets, the strongest hurricane in the history of the Gulf Coast is making landfall…as I speak! And the RNC’s message is, ‘who’s up for four more years?’
And I know by not watching the RNC, I didn’t do my job tonight, and I just want to say: I feel great about it. Why should we pay attention to what they’re saying, when none of what they’re saying tonight is about what’s happening in America right now? Why should we watch their reality show if it doesn’t reflect our reality? Why subject ourselves to their lies, that stick to your soul like hot tar? Lies like: ‘Donald Trump cares whether you live or die.’
He went on to drag the CDC for altering their testing guidelines at the request of the White House task force.
Colbert even gave feedback on the terrible production value and complete lack of surprises in the RNC’s programming. In what would normally be a funny moment, he quipped that the whole story was given away at the start.
They revealed the monster on the first night, and it’s them: A multi-headed, spineless creature that lives on your fear.
And that was just the warmup.
The monologue also pointed to another major reason Stephen Colbert was fed up: The police in Kenosha let a white vigilante shooter go free. This, at a protest over the seven bullets to the back a member of the same police force, had delivered to yet another unarmed Black man whose name became a hashtag on social media, Jacob Blake.
This post-RNC takedown will probably go down as one Stephen Colbert’s least friendly moments on air; and honestly, it’s exactly what many viewers tuning in to watch The Late Show probably wanted to see. It is, after all, nice to know you’re not alone.
As Stephen Colbert probably knows about as well as anyone, there’s no reason to carry on with business as usual. A major party’s convention wouldn’t normally invite guests who brandish weapons at protesters and destroy a synagogue’s beehives just in time to take the sweetness out of Rosh Hashanah. Why, then, should a TV host’s nightly response be anything but equally abnormal?
Here’s hoping there’s some rest, cuddles from Benny the dog, and maybe even a Lord of the Rings marathon in Stephen Colbert’s future. He could definitely use it.
Catch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert weeknights at 11:35 on CBS.