Those who know me know that I’ve been a huge fan of Jon Stewart and his, once, late night adversary and compatriot, Stephen Colbert. When David Letterman announced he was stepping down and announced his heir would be Colbert, I was both excited and terrified. Who better to step away from basic cable and make the leap to network TV than Stephen Colbert? Which Stephen Colbert we would see was my concern.
As the driving force behind The Colbert Report, we were treated to wonderful segments like: The On Notice Board, THE WØRD, Better Know a District, Threat Down, Yahweh or No Way, The Sport Report, Big Gay Roundup; Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger, and many others. He also provided some incredible interviews with famous celebrities, athletes, musicians, authors, politicians, and many others. The downside to that (and why I’m somewhat terrified) was that not all of the interviewees had a chance to speak. Many interviews were so stilted and one-sided that I wished he would just stop talking and let the other person speak. Now he’s hosting a show that is driven by the interview? That won’t last long if he can’t keep the Constant-Talking-Stephen-Colbert under wraps.
A small reversion to CTSC in his interview with Scarlett Johansson, had me worried. However, he recovered quickly (thanks to a little insistence from Scarlett) and moved forward. Phew! Last night’s interview of Joe Biden was so refreshingly polite and deferential. They spoke candidly about family, faith, and politics. Joe Biden answered questions about losing his son and, in that moment, he was stripped bare. There was no snake-oil-selling politician, there were no talking-points promises of the future, or any of the other chicanery associated with someone who’s in office or wants to run for office. There was simple, honest, humanity. As one of my former coworkers used to say, “I was gob-smacked.”
If Stephen can continue to deliver those types of interviews and still skewer the politicos and ne’er-do-wells, he will have a long, prosperous network late-night career.
It looks like I’m not the only one impressed with Colbert’s Biden interview. Amy Sullivan, Senior Editor for Yahoo Politics, and CBS This Morning were moved as well. Read & watch here.