Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Stephen Colbert. I adore The Colbert Report. He's got strong ties to Chicago -- he went to Northwestern and is an alum of Second City. He absolutely and fearlessly killed it at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
With the news that Colbert will replace David Letterman in 2015, I'm left wondering how this will all pan out. Jon Stewart supports him, and I know that broadcast television is a promotion -- a bigger audience than cable, even though I just want to know who's not watching Stewart/Colbert? C'mon, people!
The reason that I worry is that I assume he'll lose the Colbert character, which I think gave him a lot of latitude in going after people and things -- it's satire, it's not really Colbert. It's also brilliant, which is why I'll be incredibly sad to lose him at that role -- he's been doing the show since 2005 (9 years for those bad at math)!
One of my late night heroes, Craig Ferguson (who does the Late Late Show), has danced around the idea that he wouldn't want a promotion like that because he couldn't keep doing his own thing. He couldn't do something like the largely improvised monologue from last night, filled with weird noises, recovering from mistakes, talking to a robot skeleton sidekick, and just generally being awesome.
I have to wonder if Colbert will see the same fate -- not being able to be as edgy or political. I know from watching his show, that he is a consummate interviewer and an amazing improvisational talent. So, it's not that I think he'll do poorly -- in fact, quite the opposite. I guess I'm just selfishly mourning the idea of his Colbert character and show passing on -- it's just a welcome respite from the bullshit you hear every day. I know it's ridiculous to say I've gotten some of my best news from Colbert and Stewart over the years, but to not admit that would be a bold-faced lie.
Ultimately, this is a good thing, and I wish Colbert only the best. I never really imagined the day when I'd be so into late night TV (Fallon, Ferguson, and now Colbert). Things are definitely changing in that arena, and I do eagerly await the next step for Colbert. I just hope he remembers how much we really need him.
UPDATE: So, maybe Craig wanted the spot a little more than he lets on, because he'll get a $5 million "consolation clause" for not getting the gig.
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