Mostly whimsical reflections on life
The Republican National Convention has been a bundle of laughs on its own, but I also give it full credit for restoring the joy of my life on TV – the Colbert Report.
The Colbert Report was a supper stopper for my wife and me. We laid down the knives, forks and kabob sticks to tune in, even though the show we watched at the dinner hour was 24 hours old. Who cared. Stephen Colbert, the faux conservative windbag, was irresistibly funny. He dissected hypocrites and planted political phonies. He made the news hilarious.
But then Colbert became a late-night TV talk show host. His verve was stuffed in a dressing room drawer. He was reduced to interviewing celebrities, smiling at their idiosyncrasies and playing along with their shameless movie or album promos. Colbert was still faking; it just wasn’t as funny.
CBS bigwigs tried to lend a hand by inserting a new executive producer to guide the Late Show to greater greatness and higher ratings. It was as if CBS tried to give Colbert a comedy coach.
Colbert didn’t need a coach. All he needed was the Republican National Convention, which has been an updated version of the Mistake by the Lake. The political circus was all it took to bring out the clown in Colbert. He barely needed a script.
There was our old friend, singing in a flag vest and cavorting on the RNC national stage in a weird wig. In studio, Colbert revived his bit called “Word” that defined for America “trumpiness,” apparently an antonym for his previous word invention, “truthiness.”
Colbert’s fake resurrection included a real cameo appearance by his comedic colleague, Jon Stewart, living in a remote mountain cabin, sporting a scruffy beard and drinking fermented urine. Colbert gave Stewart the “news” about Trump’s presidential nomination, which sparked memories for them of his four bankruptcies. It brought back memories for me of when comedy was great again.
It isn’t easy squeezing in a laugh at this GOP convention. There was a plagiarized speech, followed by denials, accusations aimed at Hillary Clinton and finally a fallgirl dredged out of the Trump Organization.
The candidate interrupted coverage on Fox News of the convention’s most genuinely emotional moment – a speech by Pat Smith, the mother of a Benghazi victim – to tell Bill O’Reilly he will be talking about law and order in his acceptance speech. As if we couldn’t have guessed.
Before the convention even started, Trump’s team whipped together a logo that conveyed fairly obvious sexual overtones of the “T” penetrating the “P” for vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.
After Spence gave his acceptance speech, Trump joined him on stage, pointed at him proudly, gave him an awkward air kiss and disappeared, leaving his running mate standing alone and bewildered.
And then there was Ted Cruz. He took 23 minutes to give his nine-minute speech, roused the crowd and then refused to endorse Trump, which got him booed off the stage.
This is hard material to top. But Colbert was up to the task. He was even funnier. He made our winces turn into smiles, our gasps into belly laughs.
The GOP convention will end and will be followed by the Democratic convention, which will undoubtedly offer its share of jaw-dropping moments. The Stephen Colbert of yore could return.
And that raises the question of whether that yesteryear Colbert shouldn’t return more often, maybe nightly. We miss that sly devil, whose narcissism is only topped by one other person in America.
Instead of voter exhaustion, we could have voter exhilaration watching Colbert once more satirize the politics of our time. His fake news is a lot more serious than the real news.
Let the Late Show celebrities chill in the green room and give us the red meat humor that Colbert has exhumed this week.
It would be okay if Stewart showed up for laughs, too.