The New Kid
During Noah’s debut week, the interviews were consistently weak, even as the opening monologues and correspondent pieces noticeably improved. Noah’s not much for spur-of-the-moment humor-it seems to destabilize him, as I wrote last week-and it makes him a stilted interviewer. It does not help that finessing a promotional interview to be somewhat interesting to the audience is not an easy task. Watching the screenwriter of a film and someone who really liked the film discuss it would be fun if you’d seen and liked the film already, but it’s weirdly pointless when literally no one in the audience has seen it. Talk show hosts earn their keep by making small talk with celebrities that make their projects, and those celebrities themselves, sound somewhat interesting. Trevor Noah is still learning the ropes.
It made for an interview where no one came off too well. I believe Sorkin to be a certain kind of genius, but even his biggest fans are forced to contend with his massive ego, one that takes up all the available air in any confined space. Without Noah challenging him at all, Sorkin’s arrogance was its own separate entity, lumbering around the “Daily Show” studio.
I find myself forced to agree. The writers and correspondants are carrying Noah. Others are slightly more impressed.
He will be having Evgeny Afineevsky on tonight. Afineevsky’s latest project is Divorce: Journey through the kids’ eyes.
This week’s guests-
- Thursday 10/8: Rachel Maddow
The New Continuity
Larry on the other hand has really upped his game since Colbert’s debut on The Late Show.
Noah’s disappointing debut may have a surprising upside, though: Viewers now can stay tuned after his show to catch “The Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore, which follows in the slot directly after. Watching the two shows back-to-back – or, as Wilmore puts it, “black to black” – offers viewers a chance to compare two different approaches to political comedy.
Noah’s brand of silly, toothless comedy has served to highlight the fact that Larry Wilmore’s show is offering viewers not just a sharp edge, but also a much-needed “underdog” angle on the pressing issues of the day. While this was the case during the time that Stewart was the lead in to Wilmore-now that he follows Noah, it is actually much easier to appreciate the specific comic genius of Wilmore and his team.
This is why the comedy of Wilmore on “The Nightly Show” is so refreshing. Wilmore’s show focuses on offering the view of the underdog on current political issues. That means he is unafraid to confront moments when racial bias is at stake -but it also means that race is not the only diverse comedic edge to the show. The show debuted at the start of this year as a replacement for “The Colbert Report” and it has become more polished and more provocative as the months have gone by. According to an August 18 piece in “The Hollywood Reporter,” “The Nightly Show’s brand of smart, focused comedy mixed with more serious-minded commentary has really found its stride in recent months, with Wilmore’s desk bits getting sharper and panel discussions becoming more consistently engaging.”
Tonightly we have Jay Leno whoring his CNBC gig showing off his 1%er car collection. I think he’s a no talent asshole and evidently some people agree.
The trotting out of the show’s former host was a promotion stunt for Leno’s new CNBC show, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” which debuted Tuesday. It is literally about the cars in Jay Leno’s garage. And if that’s not proof the Peacock Network’s infatuation with Leno, nearly two years after he stepped down from the “Tonight Show” – well, two years after he stepped down for the second time – is bottomless, I don’t know what is. You may recall that Leno first retired in 2009, five full years after Conan O’Brien was picked to be his successor – and you may also recall how disastrously that all went down. Since then, Leno – who also famously burned more than a few bridges with David Letterman over the years – has still managed to hang on to his position as the most smug person to ever grace late night. Last spring, he cropped up on James Corden’s brand new show to ominously crack, “In three months, this show will be mine.” And in a Tuesday interview with Adweek, he explained his absence from Letterman’s last episode, saying, “Well, I asked Dave to do a 10-second tape for us [when I left]. Anything, just, ‘Leno who?’ They said no, they didn’t want to do it. Well, why am I going to run all the way to New York? I mean, quid pro quo. I just said, ‘No, that’s kind of silly.'” Classy!
See, when you’ve been privileged to have hosted the “Tonight Show” – twice! – and you’re pretty well-known as the guy who drove off two of late night’s biggest hosts and you’re doing a new show about your collection of expensive cars, acting petulant and resentful is not a good look. You’re 65 years old, man. Act like a grownup. Stop hanging around the old playground.
There were some other interesting tidbits in the interview, including a rather callous anecdote about booting a guest off “The Tonight show” when her publicist tried to limit the scope of the interview. As he put it, when asked what he missed about doing the show each night:
…’Why don’t you take your client and go home. She’s only here because she took her clothes off in a magazine after winning gold.’ I mean, I’m not going to insult her. I’m not going to make her feel cheap. But if you don’t want to discuss it, I can get a comic here in six minutes.
The Dancing Man
Not much joy in Mudville tonight. Stephen’s interview with Clinton was horrible–
It was also hard to imagine that Colbert was an interviewer who delivered segments that went down as legend. The host had a few questions he tried to hit, and he got there, but they were largely softballs; the order of the day was not incision but flattery. Colbert, on “The Colbert Report,” was short on time, pull, and influence; having ascended to “The Late Show,” the host’s drive is a little sidelined by the unrestrained glee of having David Letterman’s old job-and, perhaps, the calm made possible by not having to be in boorish, ultra-conservative character every day of the week.
But where Colbert, the persona, could pose the toughest questions without flinching, Colbert, the person, is having a bit more trouble. To a degree, “The Late Show” is just a different kind of comedy show.
Yeah, actually worse than that–
So far, the most quoted lines from the interview come from its conclusion, where Clinton gave a kind of backhanded description of Bernie Sanders’ appeal (liberals are “hacked off,” want to move to the left the way the GOP has moved to the right), denied having encouraged Donald Trump to run, and called the blustery mogul “the most interesting character out there.” (Trump’s candidacy, Clinton said, “may have a short half-life,” but turns on the “macho appeal” of saying, “I’m just sick of things not happening, I make things happening, I make things happen, vote for me.” Well said, if hardly ground-breaking.)
But the conversation was noteworthy for other reasons. Colbert did not invent the interviewer’s method of putting his subject at ease with softball early questions and then coming to tougher ones later on. But he’s used this familiar structure effectively in most of his other meetings with pols.
With Clinton, he got a bit starstruck and let the ex-president coast too much. He’s also smart and perceptive enough that he brought up the key issue of post-Reagan politics: politicians who don’t believe in governing and an electorate that has picked up the message.
Colbert touched on the issue twice.
The second time, Colbert drilled into the issue more directly. “There’s so little trust of our government now,” he said. “Some people actually go [to Washington] with the intent of getting nothing done because they believe government is the problem.”
After several years in which the Tea Party has made this very notion the center of its appeal, and in a GOP race in which three major candidates for president – Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina – have zero experience with governing, this idea is absolutely central. But it didn’t really go anywhere. And since Bill Clinton blended traditional liberalism with skepticism about “big government,” this would have been an excellent time and place to spend a few minutes on the subject. Well, we’ll have to wait ’til next time. Part of Clinton’s appeal has always been his hangdog, small-town folksiness, and Colbert let him trade on that for much of their conversation.
This Week’s guests-