When The Colbert Report debuted on October 17, 2005, opinions were vastly mixed. Two weeks after it began airing, The New Yorker reviewed his half-hour spinoff to Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show as “exhausting,” stating how “Colbert comes across pretty stiffly much of the time, because he remains in character during the whole show.”
The New York Times said Stephen Colbert’s character was “smug, bombastic and ultrapatriotic” but that “he packs more wit and acid” in a shorter time span than other skit and parody shows, like Saturday Night Live. A USA Today reviewer had written, “I can’t help thinking that Colbert’s time would be better spend back on The Daily Show.”
It might have come as a surprise to The New York Times and especially USA Today to find that Colbert’s “smug, bombastic and ultrapatriotic” character would be loved so greatly by a wide array of fans. The Colbert Report has had consistently positive viewership and has established a cult following. It might have come as even more of a shock, then, to USA Today and others when Stephen Colbert was reported to be replacing David Letterman of The Late Show nearly two weeks after the host announced his retirement.
Facebook and all manner of social media sprung to life after the announcement. Online chatter has been largely positive, but many worry whether—with the other ‘retirement’ of Colbert’s show persona—his quirky, younger aimed style of humor can translate into a much broader demographic.
Eric Deggans of NPR stated, “Those who hoped CBS might change the late-night landscape by picking a woman or person of color to succeed Letterman may be the most disappointed.” Rush Limbaugh, famed conservative commentator said CBS had “declared war on the heartland of America.”
Other comments were much more positive concerning Colbert’s new appointment. David Petraeus, KKR executive and former commander of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (where Colbert famously visited in June 2009), stated his backing of the comedian. “It is great to see a figure who has been such a tremendous supporter of our men and women in uniform — and who visited them in combat — selected to host the ‘Late Show!’”
Additionally, Kathleen Parker, a political commentator with the Washington Post also said, “Many will mourn the exit of Comedy Central’s Colbert, but millions more will celebrate his new role.”
What about you? Do you think that Stephen Colbert is a good fit for The Late Show?
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