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Opinion: Stephen Colbert a ‘brilliant’ replacement for David Letterman

Comedian Stephen Colbert arrives at the Kennedy Center Honors gala in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Comedian Stephen Colbert arrives at the Kennedy Center Honors gala in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Now that everyone knows who will replace David Letterman, it’s time to celebrate and just admit how much we love Stephen Colbert.

CBS announced Thursday Colbert of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central has been tapped to replace Letterman on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

No one was too shocked that Letterman decided to retire. It was time. He still has the personality, and the ratings, but he knew it was time to leave.

Immediately, it was clear any controversy would be over who would replace Letterman, not why he was leaving. A week after Letterman announced he was leaving, CBS said Colbert had been picked to replace him.


I mean really, who else is better to replace Letterman? Colbert is brilliant, as all fans of his show know. His interviews show just enough of his personality and just enough of his guest’s.

The interviews are funny. No guest outshines him, unlike his counterpart Jon Stewart (Stewart’s interview with actress Jennifer Lawrence, where Lawrence was both funnier and more charming, comes to mind). Colbert plays devil’s advocate constantly in his interviews, and that’s gotten him some amazing quotes from his interviewees.

Plus, Colbert has just enough sarcastic energy to appeal to both the younger and older audiences Letterman had.

Just how funny is Colbert? Last year at the Emmy Awards, his show won “Outstanding Variety Series” and “Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series,” a clear bow to his talent and following. Perhaps CBS took that into account when considering him.

Colbert’s contract with Comedy Central is up at the end of the year, making it easy for him to transition to “The Late Show.”

Other front runners included Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Louis C.K., according to ABC.

But on the other hand, Colbert can be so sarcastic it’s insulting. Just last week, “The Colbert Report’s” official Twitter account tweeted, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” making blogger Suey Park and other Asian-Americans furious, and the hashtag #CancelColbert rocked Twitter.

When he announced he would be switching shows, there was a small amount of backlash because of the tweets. But honestly, I think there would have been backlash over any of the candidates. Some people don’t like Conan, some people don’t like Seinfeld and some people don’t like Ellen.

The only part that makes me sad is that we no longer have Colbert’s character to laugh at. In a statement Thursday, Colbert said he will not do the show in the character of the hard-core, right-wing, Catholic persona he plays on his show. Most likely, he won’t behave exactly like Letterman either, because imitation rarely works in late night TV shows. But that satirical hard-hitting, right-wing American? He’ll be gone, and we can’t get him back.

So it is saddening that Colbert will leave “The Colbert Report” in just eight months, but then we will have “The Late Show” with Colbert, and that will more than make up for the loss.


  1. You are aware that Stephen Colbert plays a character on The Colbert Report, and he will presumably not be portraying this character on The Late Show? He will be hosting The Late Show as himself, and Colbert the character will be no more.

  2. Wow, what a completely worthless piece of writing, not to mention incredibly stupid analysis. Half the potential audience won’t even watch because of his political views and his ratings weren’t anything special on Comedy Central to begin with. He’s a guaranteed failure in this job, no way he beats either Jimmy.

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