Since their inception in the 1950s, late-night talk shows have been a popular commodity for major television networks. Over the decades, networks have introduced audiences to a number of new shows, all while keeping many mainstays alive through the tradition of rotating hosts.
For the first time since its creation in 1993, CBS is handing the reigns of its premier property, the “Late Show,” to a new host — Stephen Colbert.
Fans of Colbert’s ten-year run on “The Colbert Report,” which aired its final episode in December 2014, will see a side of him that is far different than his persona on the Comedy Central show. While Colbert portrayed a character described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed high-status idiot,” and a “self-important right-wing commentator,” his debut on CBS will feature a side of him that audiences have not yet seen — with no added personality.
For his first episode, Colbert’s guests will include actor/director George Clooney and presidential candidate Jeb Bush. The first episode will also feature a musical performance by Jon Batiste and Stay Human.
Leading up to the premiere, Jeb Bush used his forthcoming appearance on the show to help raise money for his presidential campaign. The candidate started a raffle which would have one winner come to the taping of the first episode. To enter the raffle, each person had to donate a minimum of $3 to Bush’s presidential campaign. As a response, Colbert created a raffle for a seat to the taping, with all donations going toward the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which supports injured service members and their families.
Since Colbert’s response video has been circulating the Internet leading up to the premiere, this topic will most likely be brought up during Bush’s interview, or at least mentioned in Colbert’s monologue.
The lineup for the remainder of the show’s premiere week includes Amy Schumer, Kendrick Lamar, SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Stephen King.
It will be interesting to see what direction Colbert will take “Late Show” after the departure of the beloved David Letterman. When Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno as the host of “The Tonight Show,” the show not only changed its host, but its style as well. Fallon has created new and exciting games — such as Lip Sync Battle, which has now gotten its own spin-off on Spike — that have turned late-night talk shows to a much more exciting event and have attracted younger audiences. Whether Colbert takes the classical approach of Leno, Letterman and Johnny Carson to the show, or follows in Fallon’s more theatrical direction, it will undoubtedly decide the show’s early ratings.
Like many talk shows, it will be difficult to judge the show on its first episode. It takes a great deal of time for a new show and host to find their stride, and the only way to find it is through trial and error. “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” which holds the time slot previously occupied by “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, aired for months until it became a quality program. With time and perseverance, Stephen Colbert should make an excellent late-night host.
“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” premieres Tuesday, September 8 at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.