Here’s Colbert. Strutting out onto the stage after a pre-taped, insanely clever opening that’s melodramatic and silly and tells all these CBS viewers that the political thunderbolt that was the Colbert Report is not about to take over the conservative-friendly Letterman timeslot, but also hints that he’s still a man with opinions and he’s not so much dulling his wit’s blade as he is swinging it in more directions than just at the Fox News pundit’s wall of stupidity. Also there will be lots of singing. Dancing. Musical numbers, musical guests, special animated shorts, maybe some ice dancing, whatever Stephen finds entertaining that week will be fair game, but don’t worry conservatives he wants you in on the jokes. If he does make fun of you, he’ll do so in a way that allows you to laugh at yourselves. So there, CBS execs, are you happy now? Can we get on with the show?
Then George Clooney comes out and talks about his feet for some reason. I don’t know, my ESP is getting a little wonky.
Next it’s Jeb Bush, and Stephen says something funny about his cowboy boots and implies George W. was the greatest president of all time and Jeb could never live up to him, but by all means try, and when exactly do you find time to polish your teeth so thoroughly because they are simply sparkling, sir. Also how did that raffle go. Back to George Clooney, whom Stephen has convinced to do a bit with his shirt off. Like there’s a hot tub or something.
Next Jon Stewart comes out and makes jokes about getting lost stumbling around the city because it’s been 17 years since he’s been let out of his cave. Then what, a musical guest? Are we running a little long, here? Red light flashing? Time to wrap it up. Stephen thanks his wife and says sorry Matt Damon, we ran out of time.
These are my expectations. I hope I’m lowballing it. I hope he blows me away. My hopes for Trevor Noah are only slightly higher than they were when Larry Wilmore was announced to take Colbert’s old slot, and though Wilmore has delivered in a lot of ways, exceeded my expectations and delivered a lot of poignant political commentary besides, particularly during the worst racially divided year in my own personal memory in this country, he still hasn’t challenged my brain or stimulated the country like Colbert could with a single eyebrow raise. I blame the panel format. They pigeon-holed themselves a bit, there.
And Trevor Noah just doesn’t strike me as very funny. I hope I’m wrong.
So come on, Colbert. Do not worry about the channel or the format. Treat it like basic cable. Experiment. Blow some minds.