The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Same Stephen, Double the Time

When Stephen Colbert was announced as David Letterman's replacement on The Late Show on CBS, the reaction was mixed to say the least. Fans of Letterman were sad to see Dave go as he had been the rebel voice of late night for 22 years. The thought of anyone stepping into Dave's shoes was a tough thing for dedicated Late Show viewers to accept, but many will agree that it was the right time. Letterman had passed his peak and was no longer connecting well with younger viewers, a demographic CBS as a whole has struggled to connect with for years.

Meanwhile, Colbert Nation found itself in a tricky spot. Naturally we were all excited for Stephen; network late night is a big deal! However, fans, like yours truly, were also worried about him taking the gig. Would Stephen be able to truly separate himself from the Republican political pundit he played so wonderfully for nine years and show us the real Stephen? How would he fare against current late night heavyweights like Fallon and Kimmel? Would he be able to keep up the same level of satirical brilliance we've become accustomed to now that he was in the hands of a major network like CBS? 

Rest assured Nation, the Stephen Colbert we know and love hasn't gone anywhere. In fact, he's gotten better. 

With Colbert at the helm of a major network talk show, he's now bringing two things to the late night mix that were sorely missed: smart conversation and interesting guests.

Given that many of the writers on his staff were brought over from the Report, it's no surprise that the writing has remained as witty and intelligent as it always was. He also couldn't have started at a better time - politically speaking. With the race for president already heating up, Colbert has had a number of political candidates on the show in its first few weeks, with even more slated for the months ahead. It is here he is able to shine as he effortlessly impersonates Bernie Sanders' Brooklyn accent and mocks Donald Trump's antics while still deeply discussing issues with candidates that people want answers to. On his very first show, Stephen didn't shy away from asking Jeb Bush the hard questions:

Colbert's formula for the Late Show is also a bit different than that of his competitors. There's still an opening monologue, skits, two interviews, a musical guest and a house band (Report fans will remember jazz musician Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human). Where the show differs from others is in its daily guest list, which usually includes one celebrity/actor/singer and one political/societal figure. In essence, what Colbert is doing is combining what would have been two episodes of the Report into one continuous episode. We've seen Stephen talk to celebrities and we've seen him talk to political figures, but combining the two into one hour of late night, while giving proper time and respect to each, is something that he's never done before and something that is not being done elsewhere. 

And when you look at the guest list for each show, you can't help but be intrigued to watch. Some of the combinations he has had so far have been George Clooney and Republican candidate Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and United States Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moinz, Vice President Joe Biden and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, new Daily Show host Trevor Noah and Secretary General to the United Nations Ban-ki Moon, Mindy Kailing and First Lady Michelle Obama and Scandal's Kerry Washington and Nobel-prize winner and female education activist Malala Yousafzai.

With this eclectic mix of guests, Colbert is able to give viewers great insight into people we don't normally (but should) see on late night talk shows.  

In his first week, Colbert had what will probably go down as one of his best interviews when he interviewed Vice President Joe Biden. They discussed many things from Biden's presidential aspirations and what he thinks makes a good presidential candidate to their mutual experiences with grief and the recent loss of Biden's son, the late Beau Biden. The interview displayed Colbert's innate skill at heartfelt, personal and sincere interviewing, a far departure from the sarcastic, satirical voice of his character on the Report. He began by expressing his and the countries condolences for the Vice President and his family, proceeding to commended Biden on his strength through personal tragedy with a sense of reverence that felt authentic to the man we are now able to see is the real Stephen Colbert. 

Now, rest assured that Stephen's rapport (pun intended) and sarcastic nature with his guests, especially on the entertainment side of his guest list, hasn't faltered. Stephen is still insanely quick, insanely funny and as authentically interested in interviewing people like Kevin Spacey about his work on House of Cards and with The Kevin Spacey Foundation as he is probing political figures with questions on their policies and agendas. 

This new era of The Late Show is definitely off to a strong start. I personally can't get enough of this show because of the quality conversations I'm seeing on what I consider a real talk show. I've loved late night television for some time now but you can only watch so many Lip Sync Battles and Celebrities Reading Mean Tweets before you begin craving something with more depth.

One thing I am curious to see is how Colbert will incorporate a female presence into the show. In August, Colbert wrote an essay for Glamour magazine where he pointed out the egregious lack of a female voice in late night. He went on to speak about how he wanted to help be a driving force behind incorporating women into late night by saying, "I'm here for you, and that means I'm going to do my best to create a Late Show that not only appeals to women but also celebrates their voices . . . I'm going to make a show that truly respects women, because I know that there's more than one way to be one." Being that Her Campus Montclair is representative of the female voice of Montclair State University, (and that Stephen is a member of the community, as he lives in Montclair, who is heavily involved with student filmmakers and the annual Montclair Film Festival) it's safe to say that we have high expectations and can't wait to see how (and if) he lives up to that promise.

All in all, it seems that Stephen has created a show that expertly walks the line between silly and smarts. By having guests like Apple CEO Tim Cook on to talk about the latest iPhone, he's giving us the opportunity to see the people behind big business, societal advancement, technological revolutions and politics on an intimate level while still managing to jab at them enough to make us all laugh.

The best part for me is that along with Stephen, the guests exude an excitement about being on the show. And why wouldn't they? Stephen has a natural capability of making everyone around him feel comfortable while also showing them a good time. Now, I've seen many interviews with many different hosts where it's obvious that the guest is solely there to promote their new movie/book/album/"insert product name here". Stephen, however, is able to break through any promotional haze and have real, meaningful conversations with his guests because that's what he is: an expert conversationalist. Will this last forever? Who knows. But at the rate Colbert's going, I think it's a safe bet to say that it's only up from here.

So keep up the great work Stephen! You know we'll keep watching because it's clear that once you've watched one episode of The Late Show, you won't be able to watch just one.