Thanks, Mr. President
Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” has found itself in a weird place lately — first.
The late-night talker regularly ran runner-up in TV ratings to Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show,” the 11:35 p.m. NBC staple that CBS’ version recently leap-frogged in households and among total viewers.
If you read that sentence and thought, “Wait, what? Really?” — we can’t blame you. That’s because mere weeks ago, Colbert’s talker was struggling so much that various publications not named TheWrap wondered aloud about the possibility of “Late Late Show” host James Corden being handed the earlier hour. ‘Twas a big premature, perhaps.
Early criticism about the post-Letterman era was that the variety show dove too deeply into politics, as opposed to devolving into silly games with celebrities a la Fallon, or creating shareable viral moments like Colbert’s other chief competition, Jimmy Kimmel. Here’s the thing though: Nielsen doesn’t measure YouTube clicks. Sorry, Jimmys.
Still, the Fallon one had Colbert’s number — that is, until Donald Trump became President of the United States of America.
Chief competition Fallon’s brand of fun took a bit of a hit when he had Trump on as a guest pre-election, choosing to tussle the man’s hair instead of ruffle his feathers. Hollywood — and viewers — hoped for something more from the day part’s king of joy.
Meanwhile, the openly liberal Colbert — who spent years on Comedy Central playing an over-the-top conservative character — stayed on message. He turtled to Fallon’s hare, and the perfect political climate to pass his foe came gift-wrapped.