I haven’t had time to consistently keep up with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert recently; it’s partially a product of the difficulty of keeping up with yet another daily show and partially a side effect of me being bummed that I had to give up my tickets for a taping of the show because of these stupid crutches and cast. I don’t know that I’ve watched a full episode since the show premiered in September, but thanks to the wonders of the Internet I’ve been able to watch a segment here and there to keep myself at least sort of up to date on how the show is progressing. It’s not perfect, but if I can throw a few YouTube hits the show’s way, at least I am supporting the show a little (even if Colbert has clearly cursed me – I sprain my ankle on my way to his secret taping in August and then break the same ankle when I get tickets to his show. That can’t be a coincidence. Colbert is all knowing).
One of the things that I’ve noticed about The Late Show under Stephen Colbert‘s tenure is that that he books some unusual and interesting guests. While he has the obvious big name celebrity guests, he also has people on that you might not automatically expect to see on a late night talk show – authors, entrepreneurs, artists and politicians. It actually makes the show more appealing to me; while watching movie stars play games is a lot of fun, it’s also kind of cool to learn more about what the guy behind Airbnb thinks about things. It distinguishes the show and while it isn’t necessarily a recipe for mainstream success, I’m not sure that is what The Late Show is necessarily courting. They are creating their own niche and I think the right people will gravitate to them.
For example, last night Colbert has on the creators of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a show that is widely popular in certain circles but that doesn’t necessarily enjoy household name recognition. Though I am wildly behind on the podcast and it’s not necessarily my exact cup of tea, I enjoy Welcome to Night Vale enough to have seen the live show when it came to town. It’s a little too sci-fi/absurdist for me to totally love it, but it is fun to listen to. It’s not something that you’d expect to see featured on a talk show, but by appearing on The Late Show it may have reached a whole new audience who didn’t know about its existence but would totally dig it. They gave a little taste of what the podcast is like, so if you like what you hear you might want to give the rest of the show a chance:
I hope that Colbert continues this streak of bringing on some different and more obscure guests. By giving these people a bigger platform, it allows more people to either discover something knew or hear from people that they wouldn’t normally hear from. I think that is an important service and makes competitive sense; The Late Show can’t beat The Tonight Show at it’s own game, so they might as well be a talk show of a different color. To this point, I think Colbert and company have achieved that.