Make America Colbert Again

This week, Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter and Alison Herman of the Ringer published two interesting articles examining Stephen Colbert’s iteration of the Late Show.

While both Jimmy Fallon and James Corden have done spectacularly well in encouraging viewers to flood their friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds with YouTube links, Colbert has struggled. Yet, in the last month or so, Colbert has managed to combine his intellect with videos that have a similar popularity as his competitors’.

The first was a daring “explanation” of Donald Trump’s reaction to the mass shooting in Orlando. This week, he’s been broadcasting live during the Republican National Convention, and will do so next week during the Democratic equivalent. Last night, however, he topped it all by bringing Jon Stewart back.

I don’t worry too much about the Late Show’s reluctance to create viral singalong videos. Colbert has an on-air personality that’s kind of like a lighter version of David Letterman, whom he replaced. That style of television is more sophisticated, and less dependent upon gags. I hope that’s not lost should they more rigorously pursue ratings or YouTube views.