On Tuesday, Jay Leno said on the “Today” show that he doesn’t miss being a late night host because “everyone has to know your politics.”
At his Paleyfest deep dive into being a late night host on Saturday, which was moderated by Pete Holmes, Stephen Colbert said he agrees with Leno that today’s late night hosts have to wear their political colors on their sleeves, but revealed that he doesn’t have a problem with it.
“It was a different time when (Leno) was hosting. Now there’s one subject, so people can see your politics more, but I’m fine with that,” Colbert said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying what this person is doing to families and the nation is horrible.”
When asked what he feels the point of “The Late Show” is, Colbert said his main goal is to make people across the country “feel like they’re not alone.” However, he also later discussed the much-documented issues he had in finding the identity and tone for his talk show.
At first, Colbert went for a heavy, political tone, before veering away from that towards a more light-hearted ethos, but “neither approach felt quite right.” The lightbulb moment, Colbert said, was when a producer came up to him and asked, “why don’t you just do what you’re really good at, which is talking about what happened today?”
“My biggest fear was that people wouldn’t come back and notice, they wouldn’t see that I had finally found what I wanted the show to be,” Colbert said. “Those first six months felt terrible because you’re having to reinvent a new way to do the show, I had never my entire life done anything as myself, I had always done something in character, I was an actor. It was the first time I had to be me, I didn’t know if I could do that, so I had to learn to do something I’d never done before with a camera in front of me, on live television, in front of a massive audience.”
Colbert’s conversation with Holmes also included a generous dose of President Trump-bashing, with the host calling him “a delicious idiot,” and once again reiterating the evidence that the President stole some of his lines from “The Colbert Report.”
In reflecting on his “Colbert Report” days, Colbert expressed amazement that some of the opinions and beliefs his conservative character espoused are now “coming from the mouths” of people in power.
“I am the thing I was parodying: a white, straight, Christian, male American, a guy who perceives that as American neutral, a guy who says, ‘Why do all these other people need all these special rights? Why can’t they just all be white?’ And that’s an actual political position now,” Colbert concluded with incredulity.