The Colbert Report Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert!

I am a creature of habit. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’m a borderline obsessive-compulsive who panics to near-Rain Man proportion if there is an alteration to my daily routine. When plans change, I lose it. I grumble, cajole, and even lose sleep when I’m thrown a curve ball. I can adjust, but I’d rather not have to do so.

It hasn’t even been a week since Stephen Colbert was announced as David Letterman’s successor. My initial reaction was, “Oh crap! What’s going to happen to the Colbert Report?” I have watched the show religiously for years, and I’m not ready to lose that oh-so-important element at the end of my daily regimen. (It’s torturous enough when they vacation, as they are now!…And why does it seem the world always goes to pot when Stewart and Colbert are away? Just wondering out loud.)

I am excited for Stephen Colbert. It is an astute honor to replace the man that has come closest to replacing Johnny Carson over the past few decades (apologies to Jay Leno). The fact that Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have whined so much about CBS’s decision is enough testimony for me that Colbert is the best candidate for the job. I am certain that I will enjoy Stephen Colbert’s reign on CBS when it starts, and it will most likely become a new regular for my routine of drifting off to sleep in front of the TV. But man, I’m going to miss the character I have come to know and love.

Colbert has already stated that he will not play the satirical hyper-conservative in his new role. I find it hard to believe that is entirely possible for him. He has proven to be so adept with his sardonic spoofing of the conservative news machine that it almost seems integral to his persona. I think he will find it most difficult to interview guests without the confrontational, self-indulgent interjections; I bet that character will find its way back into the new Late Show’s interviewing. It will be welcomed by this appreciative viewer.

I admit that I didn’t initially love this Colbert character as much as I do now. I preferred Jon Stewart’s political commentary, inductive arguments, and cerebral interviews. Colbert really annoyed me at the start, which is honestly what his character is designed to do. Repeated exposure created genuine appreciation for Colbert’s craft, and I found myself waiting for the Colbert Report with equal anticipation as the Daily Show.

I know I have eight months before I have to confront the transition, but I cannot help but wonder what Jon Stewart, as producer of the show, will do to replace the Colbert Report. Will he replace Stephen Colbert with another correspondent, as he did with John Oliver on the Daily Show during Stewart’s directorial hiatus? I admit I would enjoy seeing Jessica Williams, Aasif Mandvi, Larry Wilmore, or Al Madrigal take over the reins…maybe it could be a dual-hosted news team of Jason Jones and Samantha Bee? Hell, maybe all of the correspondents can take turns…create a rotation for Monday through Thursday…call it Correspondents Report or something more clever. Maybe Stewart will find a completely new talent to replace Colbert’s character. Perhaps Stewart will simply extend the Daily Show to fill an hour-long schedule.

I confess my preference here with the hope that someone in New York considers this perfect remedy: Sign Steve Carell as the perfect replacement host to fill the shoes of Stephen Colbert. Knowing Carell might not be available because of his Hollywood commitment, I think there is only a slight possibility of this happening, but it certainly would work well…and selfishly, it would only slightly alter my mania, by adding a new, most valuable third component to my valued “night-night” routine.

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  1. A weird thing happened today: I started thinking about how to start my blog about Colbert today and decided on the “creature of habit” tact early. I sat down and crunched it out, coming up with the Rain Man analogy on the fly. I didn’t want to spend too much time drafting because I needed to do research for tomorrow’s blog. After publishing, I got to researching, and one important article was on Salon’s commentary website. I always get distracted when I explore Salon (great writing!). I found an excerpt from Joe Muto’s book, “An Atheist in the Foxhole….” I kid you not, I stumbled across the following excerpt on the very same day AFTER I wrote today’s blog:

    “Bill [O’Reilly] was, if nothing else, a man of habit — to the point where he got incredibly angry if anything went awry with his schedule. For someone as pugilistic as he, he’s shockingly unable to roll with the punches. He’s like a taller, Irish version of Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” Even a slight delay or deviation from the plan could set off a lecture or, on occasion, a screaming match. As a result, he was tightly scheduled down to the minute.”

    I’m not sure if I should be shocked that I shared a notion with a gifted writer like Joe Muto, or horrified that I have something in common with Bill O’Reilly.

    1. Oh my goodness! I agree. I don’t know what is scarier–the scary coincidence of the rain man/routine analogy being used on the same day or the idea that you are like Bill O’Reilly.

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