“Common sense tells me Comedy Central will fight tooth and nail to keep Colbert right where he is.”
That was from my April 4th Pop-Ed about who would replace David Letterman on The Late Show. At the time, Stephen Colbert’s name was thrown around as a possible candidate, but I seriously questioned the possibility of that happening. The hour block of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report was an absolute goldmine for Comedy Central. While the lineup has changed many times, 11:00PM-12:00AM Monday through Thursday was essentially locked in stone for nine straight years. Not only did I want this pairing to continue for much longer, I completely expected it.
Yet here we are. The Colbert Report is over. This seemingly rock solid pairing has been shattered at its very core. I’m going to be completely honest, I’m very sad that this is the end. I’ve been a huge fan of The Report since 2005 and, even though I didn’t watch it everyday due to work, I always felt relieved that it was there. It was like that old friend that you wish you could see more of but always cherish what time you do have together. Now that The Report is officially done, it’ll be difficult to get used to this absence. I’m sure that Larry Wilmore will do a fantastic job on The Nightly Show but Colbert set a standard that I don’t think anyone can reach.
What a way to go too. As both a finale and a normal episode, last night’s Report was the perfect send off. It opened up “lightly” with some jokes about Syria, which is fitting because this is the last time the Stephen Colbert character will have a chance to do that. He even did a final version of The Wørd. It was Colbert doing what he does best and that’s all we could ask for. Then it appeared that everything was going to continue down this normal path with Colbert introducing another one of his classic segments, Cheating Death With Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. But instead of doing the usual shtick of Colbert literally cheating his old friend Grimmy at a game of guess, Grimmy responds violently to the usual deception and proceeds to choke Colbert. This results in Colbert killing both his guest of the night and death itself.
So obviously this means that the Stephen Colbert character is now immortal.
Taking his new immortality in stride, Colbert begins singing “We’ll Meet Again” by Dame Vera Lynn. It’s no secret that Colbert really is a great singer so it was only natural that he would use it to send off his show. As expected, Stewart came out to help his old friend with his goodbye. Yet before we could truly take in what was happening, an ABSURD amount of major names came out to join them. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Senator Cory Booker, Katie Couric, Arianna Huffington, Michael Stipe, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Patrick Stewart, Barry Manilow, Andy Cohen, Bryan Cranston, the US Army, an astronaut on the International Space Station’s COLBERT treadmill, the list seriously goes on and on. It was a larger than life way to end a show that quickly grew beyond anything anyone could have expected. It was beautiful.
The big tear jerk moment came at the end though. As Colbert was being taken away in a sleigh with Santa, Abraham Lincoln Unicorn, and Alex Trebek, he gave one final, glassy eyed thanks to everyone involved with the show. This wasn’t the character Colbert anymore. This was the real deal showing his utmost appreciation for the immense work that went into this program that was his television baby. This show became a success because of Colbert and to see it go is appropriately emotional for him. His life changed forever because of this and he did so much, including running for President and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Making the absolute final scene a clip of Stewart and Colbert goofing around back in 2010 was the ultimate capper too. No matter how successful The Daily Show and The Colbert Report became, its core was always two best friends having fun. That was a valuable reminder.
On November 14th, 2012, my now-fiance and I saw The Colbert Report for my birthday. The big takeaway I got from that amazing experience, other than sitting in the front row a few feet away from the desk and high-fiving the man himself, was how much Colbert loved what he did. This was clearly his passion and CBS must have made a very compelling offer to bring him over to The Late Show. If CBS allows Colbert to get the same creative control he had with The Colbert Report, he can easily take The Late Show to monumental heights. I absolutely cannot wait for his big return late next year. Plus, it’s definitely likely now that the Colbert character will return again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped by The Late Show or haunts the set of The Nightly Show. But while the character and the man can live on, The Colbert Report is definitely over.
Thanks for the memories Report. You will always be one of my favorite shows.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.