Monday, April 14, 2014

Stephen Colbert will be...

...taking over the Late Show from David Letterman next year and one industry insider tells me the competition is very nervous. But color me skeptical. Or at least unconvinced.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge Stephen Colbert fan. The Colbert Report is one of the few shows I record (and actually watch on occasion). He makes me laugh out loud, which is something not many people can do (Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are two others).

So why am I reluctant to hop on the Colbert bandwagon? Three reasons.

First of all, that late night time slot is a tricky one. We all remember how well it worked out for that other can't-miss, Conan O'Brien. And Jimmy Kimmel, who has achieved success in the role, had a long, long runway (since 2003). Could he have stepped in and made it work right away? Doubtful. As for Jimmy Fallon, the young comic has made quite a splash in taking over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno. But can he keep it up? Didn't Letterman also start out fast only to ultimately fall behind Leno -- for good?

And that brings me to reason number two. Why did Leno succeed where Letterman fell short? I'd argue it was because Jay played it safe and went for the lowest common denominator. In short, vanilla wins in late night. That's why, I'd venture, Conan's humor didn't make the transition and Dave ended up trailing NBC. And that's what worries me most about Colbert. His comedy is political, edgy and only plays to a small niche in the market. (As I said, I love him but will the rest of America? Half the country is Republican; will they watch in great numbers?)

Finally, there's reason number three. We haven't seen much of Colbert out of character. Sure, he's funny and incredibly quick on his feet, but will America fall in love with the real Stephen Colbert? Maybe, but it's an open question.

Personally, I'll give the guy a chance. I think he's one of the funniest guys on TV. But do I think he's a slam-dunk in the job? Nobody is.

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