Last week’s huge news in the Late Night world was Stephen Colbert bringing back “Stephen Colbert” for a one segment only spectacular. Colbert had retired his “Colbert” persona when he left Comedy Central for CBS, feeling that the partisan character simply wouldn’t work on network. But with his return last week, it seemed like CBS and Colbert had both miscalculated, as the character’s return was the highest rated show in months. It looked like there might be return engagements in the works.
Which is why the last couple of days have felt odd, and Colbert has not brought back his persona for the DNC convention. Here I thought he was afraid of insulting Clinton, as if it wouldn’t work. Turns out, it wasn’t that.
No, by not negotiating taking the character with him when he left the Colbert Report, when the character finally came back last week, Comedy Central’s corporate lawyers informed him he no longer had the rights to his own character he played for so many years and whom he so enjoyed and which made him famous. The odd sense of Colbert being “off” this week is because he has discovered that somehow he allowed a part of himself that we all knew and loved for all these years to slip away and that greedy pissants at Comedy Central have the gall to insist they own it. Let us all grieve with Colbert who said tonight he will never play that character again. (And then went and played the character again, albeit, as his identical twin who never had a TV show. Fuck you Comedy Central.)
It might have been nice for Jon Stewart to show up and show solidarity, but Stewart still owns both The Daily Show (or the pale shadow of itself) and The Nightly Show which follows. Instead John Oliver came on for a guest slot.
By the way, the Tim Kaine jokes last night during and after his speech on Twitter were a glorious spontaneous moment of comedy as every last person who watched all dropped into the dad jokes from “Tim Kaine email hacks full of reminders to not hit reply all” to “Tim Kaine has a first aid kit in his glove compartment just in case,” to “Tim Kaine says to remember to wear a hat if it’s cold.” Perhaps each of these does not seem funny on their own, but imagine literally hundred and hundreds of people doing this, all at once, wall to wall. (Personally, my favorite I can up with was “Tim Kaine waits until Tuesday to talk about Game of Thrones so everyone has a chance to watch it.”) It also speaks to what a brilliant move he was by Clinton as a VP choice.
And finally, Colbert found a way to make fun of the worst aspect of this damn convention season. The scourge of all our ears: that Glee-i-fication of Fight Song.