Stephen Colbert used to be the one person who authors could rely on for a decent interview when releasing a new book. But now that he's moving up to the big time, authors will likely be some of the biggest losers, if the most easily forgotten.
When Colbert finally does move to the Late Show in 2015, after the official timetables and locations are determined, his persona, routine and guest choice will all likely change. We know the Colbert Report writing staff is tagging along, so the same brain trust who makes us laugh at 11:30 on Comedy Central now will be responsible for this new non-Colbert Colbert. The transition should be relatively smooth.
But with a new, flashy network show comes new, flashy network guests; celebrities, movie stars, Big Bang Theory people, athletes. CBS does not expect Colbert to tackle the same political and philosophical ideas that were his bread and butter while playing the satirical right wing commentator. To wit, the Colbert Report's guest list for this week:
Sensing a theme? Not a Johnny Galecki to be found.
So, where do these people go now? The Report had made itself an oasis for authors to discuss and promote their books, but there is no likely outlet on television for them in a post-Report world. Colbert replacing Letterman is a victory for the smart guys, or at least smart guys who watch late night, but it's as much of a loss. Colbert is able to interview as many authors as he does on Comedy Central because he's evidently one of the smartest guys in the business today — the degree from Northwestern doesn't hurt — and there are only so many celebrity interviews to go around. Whatever Comedy Central does to replace Colbert, if authors have any hope of salvaging the one time slot they can rely on, the host has to be able to grasp a wide range of topics and ideas.
If authors have any hope of maintaining their hold on the time slot, the host of whatever-Comedy Central-replaces-Colbert-with has to meet a certain intellectual bar. The host can't be any old dum-dum. This is where fans of W. Kamau Bell, of the late FX show, should start shouting, loudly. Schumenators, aka fans of Amy Schumer, should also start lobbying for their leader. (I made up Schumenators on the spot, feel free to make that a thing.) Louis C.K. could also walk in and provide a steady hand to guide Comedy Central into the future. Or they could dip into the existing Daily Show talent pool, as they did with Colbert — Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee both have dedicated followings already. The network has a wealth of options when it comes to smarty-pants talkers. Let's hope Comedy Central decides to stay out of the celebrity booking brawl and keep their 11:30 slot as refuge for readers and writers. The existing plan already gets some of the highest ratings among 18-34 year olds in late night. Why deviate?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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