By Grant Genske
I don’t know if there is anyone on network television that I trust more than Stephen Colbert.
As the host of The Colbert Report, Steve has been serving up political “truthiness” since 2005 with hilarious segments like “Better Know a District” and “Word of the Day.” He has evolved from a faux network correspondent on The Daily Show to a bona fide cultural force with real political clout. There are very few late night hosts who could boast about speaking in front of congress or delivering a keynote address at the White House Correspondents dinner (or having a NASA treadmill named after them).
For my generation, Colbert has become one of the defining voices of political commentary because he gets it. He is wickedly smart and has a good grasp of the policy issues, but more importantly, he understands how ridiculous the realm of politics seems to young people. So, when it was announced that Colbert would be taking over for David Letterman as the host of the Late Show, I practically pooped myself, because I couldn’t think of anyone else who would do a better job than lil’ stevie.
Sure, not everyone is such a fan, so let’s address the criticisms of Colbert.
- We have never seen him just being “himself.” Okay, first of all, if this is your criticism then please reexamine your life choices. Is there a single Late Night host who isn’t playing a character? Do you think these people are always this funny, energetic and well groomed? I personally feel that I know more about Stephen Colbert and what he stands for than I know about most Late Night talk show hosts, because anyone who watches his show realizes that he is perhaps the most adept satirist on television. On some level, I know exactly how Stephen Colbert feels about most issues because he so expertly mocks those who stand up against him.
- He doesn’t have the talent. Shut up, please shut up. There are few people in the world who are more talented than Colbert. Anyone who can perform in a Broadway musical or host ColbChella 2013 is positively dripping with talent. Colbert has the wit and the charm to host Late Night, but, more importantly, he has the chops. He has conducted countless interviews on his show with political figures and cultural icons, and he has time and time again proven himself to be a fantastic writer.
- He will alienate conservatives. Exactly. Colbert was not chosen because he would rope in conservative viewers. As Scott Collins and Meredith Blake write, Colbert was chosen because he show is wildly successful with younger audiences. For all of the reasons that I love him, Colbert has the potential to rope in a demographic that has, for the most part, been moving away from network television and towards online content. Plus, if the most outspoken proponents of this point are Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, then I am going to have a tough time listening to your argument.
Only time can tell how Colbert will fare, but for now I am wildly ecstatic about his move to Late Night. My one fear is that Colbert will dull his satirical edge as he tries to appeal to a mass audience, and that the political sphere will, in the process, lose an important critic. But, if Colbert can retain some of the sarcasm and even bring that to a larger audience, then I think that the move will be a success.
This has been the Genske Report. Thanks for watching, and good night.