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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman on Late Show: I haz a sad

You’ve probably heard the news: Come next year, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report will end, and Stephen Colbert — as himself, not as the blowhard conservative idiot he portrays on the show — will move over to take up the hosting spot on CBS’s Late Show.

Here’s how Colbert handled the news on The Colbert Report:

I gotta tell you, I do not envy whoever they try to put in that chair.

This transition has made the news in the U.K. and Australia, which astonishes me, because I can’t imagine that anyone outside the U.S. (and maybe Canada — maybe) has even heard of either Colbert or Letterman. It’s akin to U.S. CNN covering the news that So-and-so has just been signed by Man U. (Most Americans would have no idea what “Man U.” is even referring to.)

Anyway: I am not terribly happy at this news. I can’t imagine that the world — okay, the U.S. — will not still need Colbert’s in-character demolishing of American political idiocy a mere year from now. But mostly — echoing my BFF bronxbee, who was the first to let me know that the rumors about Colbert replacing Letterman had been confirmed — I’m all: Another middle-aged straight white guy on late-night TV? Kee-rist. The terror at change that characterizes what passes for American entertainment has finally overstayed the welcome it never had.

Change the record, all you straight white middle-aged guys in charge of absolutely everything. You have ceased to be cute.

I’m sure Colbert will be great in his new job. But so would a lot of other people who look like less the current array of late-night hosts, which is crying out for some new voices.

posted in:
talent buzz | tv buzz
  • LaSargenta

    Arsenio Hall? How come his name doesn’t seem to come up these days? I heard he has a talk show again…

  • But he hasn’t been around in years. (Does he have a show?) That’s a huge mark against him. But Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, Amy Poehler… all working now.

  • LaSargenta

    Oh, yes, but this change and your commentary made my mind go off to the ‘whatever happened to…’ world.

    Still, those three women are >also< white, and of a certain demographic. Hilarious and I think they'd be interesting. But, was Johnny Carson already a household name when he started the Tonight Show? How about someone less-known?

    Of course, I'm not a big tv watcher. I really don't know what I'm talking about in the mainstream sense.When I watch most tv or tv-like stuff, I find myself bored. Part of it is that it seems to be a whole lot of the same-old-same-old circle jerk of celebrity. Someone becomes famous for some reason I'm not up on ('cause I live under a rock) and then I can't get away from them, even though I live under a rock.

  • althea

    Arsenio does have a show. I just had to hunt up where it’s showing, and according to the CBS distribution site it should be on the CW, but on my local listings they show signoff at 10pm. Which admittedly seems odd but then I don’t get the CW with my antenna so I can’t verify.

  • Bluejay

    Yeah, I have mixed feelings about this, for many reasons. I’ll miss blowhard-Colbert, although maybe he can still do his in-character thing in a segment of the show? He does still come off as witty and smart as his non-blowhard “natural” persona, as in his hour-and-a-half interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson that’s on YouTube.

    And yeah, it would have been great to see someone from the wide spectrum of not-straight-white-male humanity get the job for a change. Fey or Poehler (or Key and Peele!) would have been great; but if they got the gig, does that mean they have to drop everything else they’re doing? That would make me sad too…

    Why does daytime TV seem to have more diversity in its hosts (The View, Oprah, Ellen) than late-night?

  • Tonio Kruger

    Wait a minute….

    Man U? I’m guessing that’s slang for Manchester United. Amirite?

  • You’re rite. :->

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Totally with you on the “yet another middle aged white guy”. But, the recent #CancelColbert twitter-storm suggests that the “Stephen Colbert” joke is getting stale and may be about to overstay it’s welcome.

  • Beowulf

    Tina Fey, yes, Amy Poehler, yes–Chelsea Handler, ugh!

  • If anyone is a philosophical and attitudenal heir to Lettterman, it’s Handler. Except women aren’t supposed to be edgy and challenging, I guess…

  • That was manufactured by the very rightwing blowhards Colbert sends up.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No it wasn’t. What on earth gave you that idea? Unless you’re reading something I haven’t seen. I’m reading things like this:


    and this:


    I have very mixed feelings – using racism to criticize racism is a delicate act and likely to blow up in one’s face – but Suey Park is no right-wing blowhard. The actual right-wing blowhards are giggling with glee over what they perceive as the left turning on one of their own.

  • Danielm80

    I’m not sure I follow your original argument. I don’t see how #CancelColbert is a sign of fatigue with the character. Both writers said that they like Colbert’s sense of humor. Brittney Cooper even said that she watched his program every day. Some people have also said that they found the joke funny when it first appeared on the show. They just thought that when it was posted on Twitter, taken out of its original context, it became offensive. So I don’t see how any of the outrage signals that people are tired of the character–only frustrated with a particular joke. Can you explain the logic? Because I feel like I’m missing some important step in your argument.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It’s no so much an “argument” as an observation. Evidently, coming from the official Colbert Report twitter account was not context enough for this tweet. I don’t have a sense that this has been an issue before. I also don’t know that it’s an issue now. So it may mean nothing beyond “This joke isn’t funny.” Or it could be people thinking “The ‘Stephen Colbert’ schtick isn’t that funny anymore.” Colbert himself always strikes me as a pretty savvy guy, the kind who can tell which way the wind is blowing. That he would pursue (or even just accept) a new gig suggests to me that he may think now’s the time to leave, while he’s still (mostly) on top.

  • rurugby

    Chelsea Handler is far too juvenile to be on Late Night, I like her books but she is vapid on TV. Would be a rating collapse.

  • Jurgan

    Yeah, I’m with you on most of this. I agree with “damn, late night looks pretty white and male.” On the other hand, I can see why Colbert might have gotten tired of playing a jerk for so long and want to be himself. I do look forward to seeing what he does with the show. As for Comedy Central, I’m hoping they spin-off another one of the Daily Show guys to take his slot. Larry Wilmore, perhaps?

  • I think many people would have said the same thing about Letterman when he started.

  • The “controversy” didn’t explode until Michelle Malkin got involved.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    interesting. I picked up on the story late, and hadn’t seen Malkin’s name associated with it until you mentioned it. Adding her to the Google search, it does look like #cancelcolbert picked up steam after she retweeted.So, maybe it would have gone away with out Malkin.

    But then, why does Suey Park need the involvement of known-racist Michelle Malkin in order to get her concerns noticed? That’s a whole other load of cultural baggage, though.

  • I wonder where you got the idea that people outside of North America wouldn’t have heard of Colbert or Letterman? I can tell you that even in non-English-speaking countries most people who keep up with the news would recognize both their names.

  • RogerBW

    I’ve only heard about it because I’m on some fora with substantial American representation. I had assumed Letterman had died or retired years ago. Is the chat-show “promote-your-latest-product” format really so popular that they need to keep it going?

  • In a word, yes.

  • Well, here in the UK, Colbert’s show is on a cable channel that many people don’t have access to, and Letterman isn’t on at all, as far as I’m aware. I’ve only encountered online references to them at US-oriented sites. How do they cross your radar? (Your IP address is in Zagreb — is that where you are?)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, George Lopez had his own TV talk show for a while, but it eventually went kaput. Which is just as well since I don’t believe he would be very popular with most of the people who post here anyway.

  • Bluejay

    I looked up some of Lopez’s standup on YouTube and I think he’s funny.

    You wanna maybe give your assumptions about other commenters here a rest? :-)

  • Why do you think that?

    I mean, I don’t find him funny in the least, but it’s not like I’ve made not liking him a foundational philosophy of this site or anything…

  • Beowulf

    I’m as far left as you get (Socialism, yum!), but I think Suey Park is one of the left-wing blowhards who have no sense of humor: “Eating Irish babies, Mr. Swift! Have you no shame!”

  • Yeah, I’m in Zagreb.
    Hm. Well, neither Colbert nor Letterman are in any way on TV here. But they’re on the Internet (especially Colbert) – as you say, people who read media-oriented US sites are bound to come across them – and lots of people read media-oriented US sites, many of them not in the US.
    I think it’s actually a bit of a paradox – the UK has its own strong media culture that extends to the Net, so someone starting off from there would probably experience mostly a British view of the media. I’m sure it’s similar in France, even more so in fact because of the language barrier. But smaller countries have smaller media, and are therefore more open to US influence, particularly online.
    Of course I can only speak from personal experience, but a notable fraction of Net-aware people I know also know who they are.

  • Tonio Kruger


  • That all makes sense. Though it doesn’t explain why Colbert and Letterman would make the mainstream local news here in the UK. It implies that people beyond the US-oriented Web know who they are.

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

  • Bluejay

    Why wouldn’t non-Americans know who Letterman is? His company is worldwide, after all. :-)

  • It’s a bit pants though :-/

  • Well, I can’t speak to that – I was responding specifically to the other part, “I can’t imagine that anyone outside the U.S. (…) has even heard of either Colbert or Letterman.”

  • I may have overstated the situation. :->

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