In a brilliant strategical move, The Late Show has been live all week covering the Republican National Convention, giving us up-to-the-minute responses from some of our country’s most talented comedy writers about some of the most maddeningly insane political proceedings.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert has taken a few months to find its voice, not unlike the early days of Seth Meyer as Late Night host and Conan O’Brien’s stint at The Tonight Show. But going live after the RNC has been a clear reminder of why Colbert’s voice: irreverent and performative, all while being so likable it seems like it should be impossible.
Colbert has been able to show us just how distinctly weird this convention is without relying on outrage that unfortunately becomes one-dimensional when there’s so much about which to be outraged. If logic and facts don’t work against a group that supports Donald Trump, maybe mockery will. After all, this is a man who pretended to be his own publicist to brag how tons of women want to date him. We passed logic and reason several stops back.
Some of the highlights of The Late Show so far this week: a musical number, footage of Fox News anchor Bret Baier filling a water bottle with mustard, and, in what might turn out to be this election cycle’s Tina-Fey-As-Sarah-Palin, we got Broadway legend Laura Benanti as Melania Trump, an impersonation so spot-on that I wouldn’t be surprised if her next stop is SNL.
But most importantly, we saw the return of two familiar faces that have been sorely missed this election cycle: Jon Stewart, and “Stephen Colbert,” Colbert’s blowhard faux-O’Reilly persona that left television with the final episode of The Colbert Report in 2014.
Seeing that familiar eyebrow lift, hearing just a few flat notes of near-forgotten theme music, getting one more segment of The Word: it all felt like visiting your old elementary school and seeing nothing has really changed—your teachers are all exactly the same age and they all remember you perfectly.
It’s almost enough to make you feel like this election might be restored to sanity.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, publisher of Observer Media.