Thursday, September 10, 2015

Will The Real Colbert Please Stand Up

This past Tuesday night, Stephen Colbert, formally of the "Colbert Report," made his Late Night debut on CBS. His shift from satirical news to late night was intriguing for many reasons. He's making the shift from cable to network Television and he's now got over an hour of content. But perhaps the most intriguing and publicized change for Colbert, is his character.

For the last nine years, Stephen Colbert essentially was playing a character, not being himself. When the program began in 2005 it was a perfect opportunity for Colbert to get into the public eye and display his star power. And for the nine years the show aired, his program along with Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" dominated the 11:00pm hour for Comedy Central. While Colbert's comedic intelligence and charisma shined throughout his time on the program, reports say playing the same character for nine years began to weigh down on him. Pretty much everything he said or did on the show had to go through a right wing filter to keep him in character. Essentially Colbert was performing one long sketch for nine years. 

As much as people loved the "Colbert Report," it's easy to see how he could grow tired with the limitations him and his crew faced in writing for one character. So now as he steps into his new show and the vacated seat of David Letterman, Stephen Colbert has a chance to show his real self, to speak uninhibited.

Colbert's first show was interesting, to say the least. You never really know what to expect on someones first episode, but the mystery felt greater going into this program. One of things I was trying to figure out early on was the structure/format. Most late night programs eventually find their rhythm and begin to roll out shows daily that are fairly similar, with some variation here and there. But in the first episode of Colbert, it was hard to figure out the set up they'll use going forward. Some moments just felt a little awkward or different. One instance of this being when they played the title sequence about ten minutes into the show after he had already done his monologue and dialogue with the crowd. Overall, the show had very little flow and most of his gimmicks or bits went longer then expected.

As odd as the first show felt, Colbert's enthusiasm and energy was on full display. He looked recharged, like someone who had been liberated, and his energy was infectious. As a whole, the program felt more like a variety show then anything else, something to put Colbert's skills on display. The structure was secondary to Colbert's new personality. The issue for Colbert going forward will not be in replacing Letterman, it'll be in replacing the old Colbert. Pretty much he's his own toughest act to follow. With that said this program promises to be something new and different because for the first time the world will get to see the real Colbert.

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