Why Colbert Is Going to Be Even Greater

Many think he's too restricted in his Comedy Central persona

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 10, 2014 4:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – The choice of Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman is winning almost universal praise, even if he will be shedding the blowhard persona beloved by his fans at Comedy Central. The biggest knock from critics is that he is yet another white guy in the late-night lineup. Here's a sampling of what's out there:

  • Frank Rich, New York: "It's hard to imagine a better choice than Colbert, whose talents are many and will be even more apparent once he's liberated from his Colbert Report character."
  • Willa Paskin, Slate: It will be a "tragedy" if Colbert is reduced to fawning interviews, but the brilliance of his current show makes that unlikely. "If Colbert can bring his ire and pointed wit to bear on the format—turn the monologue into more of an argument or op-ed than a string of lame jokes; invite authors, scientists, politicians, and intellectuals to join him after the celebrities—that will be a boon to himself, CBS, audiences, and the genre."
  • Tim Goodman, Hollywood Reporter: Brilliant move. "Yes, fans of Colbert 'in character' will miss his show, but the truth is that the format, despite being an excellent vehicle that launched Colbert to stardom, was far too limiting for Colbert's talent. He's absolutely going to blossom with this new freedom."

  • Erin Gloria Ryan, Jezebel: The move draws attention to "the pervasive and pesky problem of a lack of diversity in late night talk show hosts," she writes. "If Comedy Central replaces Colbert with a similarly formatted program, will the new kid on the block be another white guy? Or will they take a risk and let a woman or a person of color take a shot? Colbert got his big promotion because he busted his ass for years and proved he was up to the task. It would be great if more women had the chance to do the same."
  • Popular tweet: "In spite of being white, male, straight, popular, competent, and rich, Stephen Colbert has overcome the odds and succeeded," writes Teju Cole.
  • Pete Dominick, Daily Beast: "Can Colbert drop the character and still succeed? Of course," writes Dominick, who worked on the show for six years. "Hosting the Report has always been far more difficult than a late night network-style talk show. But can he just be himself and be a success? Inside his slick suits, Colbert possesses every weapon and trick a comedian can utilize. As long as it’s the same guy in the same suits, Colbert will more than hold his own on CBS."

Stephen Colbert replaces David Letterman sometime next year.
Stephen Colbert replaces David Letterman sometime next year.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
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