COMMENTARY | The good news is the “The Colbert Report” is going to be cancelled. The better news, at least from an entertainment perspective, is that this is because Stephen Colbert is to replace David Letterman at “The Late Show.”
This does not mean that Stephen Colbert!, the psycho reimagining of what a conservative pundit must be like will be taking Letterman’s place. Stephen Colbert, the objectively real comedian, rarely actually seen on the air, will be doing the honors.
This is all for the good. The Colbert Report has a decidedly niche audience of stoners and slackers who do not like their news dished out seriously, but prefer it will a good dose of snark. The audience for “The Late Show” is somewhat broader and older and would find Colbert’s persona to be just a tad unsettling.
Mind, Letterman was not shy of going with the nasty, as we remember the time he made a rape joke about one of Sarah Palin’s daughters. Colbert’s on air persona may have been obnoxious, but as far as anyone can recall he never went there.
Still picking Colbert is a gamble. Jimmy Fallon has been doing a great job filling Jay Leno’s considerable shoes on “The Tonight Show” in the same time slot. Rush Limbaugh, among others, is already calling Colbert’s selection an “assault on the American heartland.”
Watching a kinder, gentler Colbert will be interesting to watch, to say the least. He has built up a brand as the angry comedian, viciously attacking conservatives. He will have to broaden his targets if he expects to succeed on network television. Otherwise, in a few years, CBS is going to have to go through this process all over again and try to find a replacement for Colbert, who will be relegated back to the comedy club circuit making jokes at the expense of President Ted Cruz.
In the meantime, it is best to give him a chance. Many people thought Fallon would turn “The Tonight Show” hard to the left as well. This has not happened. Maybe Colbert can make the same transition as well.