I live my life by utilizing truthiness as much as I possibly can. Truthiness? What in the barnacle jumpsuits is that, you sexy man? Cool yo’ pits, brobie, it is the term coined by the wise man named Stephen Colbert, and it means you base your opinions and actions on your gut feeling rather than relying on all that brainy, rational crap. For example, did you know that snappin’ yo’ fingas in a Z-formation was originally a sign for showing you are craving curry? My gut tells me this is accurate.
I am using truthiness in honor of Colbert because rumors have run amok about the pseudonewscaster lately. After David Letterman’s announcement last week that he will be retiring from his decades-long post on “Late Show with David Letterman,” news outlets began to claim that my pal Colbert is a frontrunner to replace him.
People have been questioning the potential success of Colbert as the real Colbert instead of his ultraconservative, arrogant, oblivious character named Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” With the help of some truthiness, I can discern Colbert would do an amazing job as the “Late Show” host, but I also hope he doesn’t get the position.
A similar situation happened recently when Letterman’s longtime rival, Jay Leno, was replaced by Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.” Fallon has seen extraordinary success at the helm of the legendary show, and Colbert would bring similar appeals to “Late Show.” Fallon has reinvigorated late-night television and has turned it into a youthful, hip enterprise after the years of an increasingly irrelevant Leno. He has a musical and creative flourish, along with an infectious enthusiasm.
Colbert would also attract a youthful audience and would be able to put his musical ability and quick-thinking on display. He would bring a biting edge to the customary interviews with his wit, which would differentiate his version of the late-night talk show from his predecessors and contemporaries. Ultimately, Colbert is smart, clever and energetic — all traits that would undoubtedly render him a hit in Letterman’s role.
Even though the “Late Show” position is more prestigious, however, I want him to stay on as the anchor of “The Colbert Report.” Perhaps this is because I love him. Yes, it is fuzzy who or what exactly CBS would be hiring for the position, if they hire Colbert. He himself acknowledges the confusion over where his character ends and his actual self begins. In his 2011 commencement speech at his alma mater Northwestern University, Colbert said, “As you have explained to your grandparents, my name is Stephen Colbert, but I also play a character on TV who is named Stephen Colbert, and I don’t always know which one of us has been invited to speak.”
Furthermore, although I believe Colbert would be able to effectively shed his satirical alter ego and simply be the real Stephen Colbert, this would destroy a legendary character. He has a true talent for what he does on his current show, and it would be a shame for that to be watered down to fit the talk-show mold. For example, when there was the recent #CancelColbert controversy in response to a seemingly offensive segment he did on his show, he responded by hilariously satirizing the attacks against him without actually apologizing once. As the “Late Show” host, he wouldn’t have the same liberties or edginess and would have to succumb to the constraints placed upon him.
Stephen Colbert is such a genius character that few, if any, other people could perform at such a high level. On the other hand, although Colbert would indeed be entertaining as the “Late Show” successor, it is a far less-idiosyncratic job that several others could adequately fulfill. I don’t want to lose the cringeworthy, yet hilarious, interviews, the tongue-in-cheek shorts or the parodying series such as “Better Know a District.” Stephen Colbert is becoming an iconic character — an iconic character that hasn’t had quite enough time for fans to adore yet.
Maybe it’s just selfishness, but my fandom for Colbert’s current role makes me hope he doesn’t take on another job for a long time to come.
Taran Moriates is the arts columnist. Contact him at [email protected].