I think the RNC has finally broken Stephen Colbert. He’s doing his monologues live this week, reacting to the convention shortly after it wraps up for the night, and if this clip from last night is any indication, it’s become a struggle. This is some of the loosest, shaggiest stuff you’ll see in late night, and that includes the pandemic era, where hosts have routinely embraced a looser, shaggier aesthetic befitting the new housebound nature of their shows. Here, though, the man who spent almost 10 years never breaking character or losing sight of the joke on Comedy Central stumbles over a couple of lines, has a couple of odd pauses, and just seems weirdly out of rhythm throughout. Maybe it’s because, as he says at the start of the segment, they just finished writing it right before going live. Maybe it’s because it is live. Or maybe it’s because it’s become almost impossible to parody Trump and his Republican Party, which is just so thoroughly disconnected from reality that there’s no ground upon which to even base a joke. Honestly, as somebody who still finds Colbert personally charming and amusing, and who hopes to see his political comedy on CBS at least aspire to the level of his Comedy Central work, while fully understanding that the kind of satire he did there wouldn’t fly on this higher profile, general interest talk show, it’s still hard to be disappointed in how underwhelming his new show is anymore. This is what Colbert does now, for better or worse; he’s a talented guy content to produce solid-to-mediocre material for the widest possible audience, without the bite or insight of his previous work. Eh, he’s earned the right.
Anyway, here is he talking about Melania Trump’s speech, the poor production values of the event, and how the RNC is essentially a “racist spelling bee.”