Image via Rolling Stone
By Nick Kalantzopoulos
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” debuted on CBS last week, putting the former host of the “Colbert Report” right in the smack of network late night television.
Stephen Colbert began a new era of “The Late Show” series, which recently parted ways with its first ever host, David Letterman, who retired after over 21 years on CBS. Colbert welcomed George Clooney as his first official guest on Monday, however Clooney was not the first celebrity to make a cameo.
Colbert opened his first show with a sketch in which he sang the national anthem at a little league baseball game, among other venues. At the end of the song, the “umpire” took his mask off and yelled, “Play Ball.” The “umpire” was none other than former “Daily Show” host, Jon Stewart. Stewart was also unexpectedly credited as an executive producer of Colbert’s new show, a move that was not previously announced.
Other guests during Colbert’s first week included former Florida governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, actress Scarlett Johansson, CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk, Vice President Joe Biden, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, actress and comedian Amy Schumer and author Stephen King.
Colbert also had a plethora of well-known musical acts perform during his first four shows. After Jon Batiste, the show’s bandleader performed with the in-house band Stay Human on Monday, rapper Kendrick Lamar performed a lengthy medley of songs from his new album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” on Tuesday’s show. Lamar was Colbert’s final musical guest on the “Colbert Report.”
Country star Toby Keith also performed a song on Wednesday’s show, and famous folk singer Paul Simon performed his classic, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” with some help from Colbert himself.
Of course, much of the talk during the first week of shows centered around Donald Trump, whose brash language, actions and demeanor over the summer has skyrocketed him into first place in many, if not all, Republican Presidential polls.
Colbert included a comedy bit during his first show, in which he showed a clip of Trump promising not to eat Oreos anymore because the company that manufactures them, Nabisco, had planned to move one of their plants from Chicago to Mexico.
Colbert ate one Oreo, then put the rest of the bag down saying, “One is enough. That is the only Trump story I’ll be treating myself to tonight.” When the audience groaned, Colbert responded, “Well maybe just one more.” Colbert kept with this pattern, eating one Oreo after each Trump clip, until he ended up devouring the whole bag.
Another cameo in the inaugural episode included “The Tonight Show” host, Jimmy Fallon. Proving that their so-called rivalry is friendly, Fallon and Colbert ended the show in the “late night show host locker room,” bidding each other good night.
Although Fallon and Colbert clearly have no hard feelings toward each other, “The Tonight Show” lined up some of its most A-list celebrity guests during this past week, and performed some of its most popular segments. Justin Timberlake and Ellen DeGeneres, both A-list stars, were on Fallon’s show on Wednesday, helping it to beat “The Late Show” in the television ratings, in just its second night.
Timberlake and Fallon opened the show with “History of Rap 6,” one of the more popular bits on Fallon’s show, and DeGeneres joined Fallon in a Lip-Sync Battle. On Friday, Fallon had on none other than Donald Trump himself, a move to signify that Fallon intends to still run late night television, at least in terms of ratings and YouTube hits, even after Letterman’s departure.
Colbert’s move to CBS leaves Trevor Noah as the only host left to begin a new late-night show in the past few years. The retirement of Jay Leno and the ascension of Jimmy Fallon as the host of “The Tonight Show” helped begin a transition in the genre. Seth Meyers took over “Late Night,” Fallon’s old stomping grounds, Letterman retired from his show, Craig Ferguson retired as host of “The Late Late Show,” the show that followed Letterman’s, and was then replaced by James Corden, Larry Wilmore began hosting “The Nightly Show,” which took over the slot that “The Colbert Report” had vacated and Jon Stewart retired as “The Daily Show” host. Only Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel chose to keep hosting their respective late night talk shows.
Although Stephen Colbert stressed that he cannot truly replace David Letterman, Colbert has become the missing piece to the puzzle that is network late night television. As Letterman and Jay Leno performed at the same time on CBS and NBC for over 20 years, Colbert and Fallon will officially take the reigns to grapple over that number one spot in late night.