April 25, 2016 – Michelle Williams, Eddie Huang, Bob Mould

Episode GuideEPISODE NUMBER: Season 1, Episode 128 (Monday, April 25, 2016)
GUESTS: Michelle Williams | Eddie Huang | Bob Mould
SEGMENTS: Stephen-Ade | Monologue – Stephen White-Mansplains Beyonce’s Lemonade | Poor Tom Brady | Wonder Twin Powers…Agitate | What’s In Hillary’s Purse? | Michelle Williams | Let’s Just Remake All Movies With Emoji | Eddie Huang | Bob Mould – “The End of Things”
SUIT REPORT: Black Suit | White Shirt | Grey/Navy Striped Tie

Stephen Colbert Lemonade Baseball Bat Flip

  • Gina

    Stephen as Stephenade = love. I couldn’t watch all of the show yet, but the interview with Eddie Huang is dope. I definitely want those pork rolls! Next NYC trip.

  • Gina

    Ok guys, sorry, so I’m just getting ready to go out and thinking about this Lemonade thing that Stephen so nicely White-mansplained to us all. I am all about supporting black female empowerment, but does anyone find it odd that Beyonce would release something like this in such a calculated and dramatic fashion (the impromptu release, big glitzy HBO film)? The fact that perhaps her husband, who is a billionaire rapper, might have cheated on her, is basically (supposedly) the driving force behind the “visual album.” Why would a person, who is a celebrity and in the tabloids all the time, want to fuel even MORE speculation about their personal life in this way? The father of your child? Is this really empowerment, or using a personal situation to make more cash? How is this not considered beyond tacky?

    Now, the Beygency (young fans, more than likely) are “swarming” people and accusing them of being home wreckers. Is that being a responsible celebrity? Is smearing people considered to be a desirable and marketable media strategy these days?

    • Eli

      Actually, Beyonce isn’t in the tabloids all the time, due to the very way in which she and Jay Z manage their personal brand. Something that has been studied quite heavily by those in the industry. You could say the elevator video was either something they didn’t expect to get out, or very well played on their part. It wont fuel that much more speculation, all the things mentioned in the visual album are well known events from the past. If any thing, it confirms things long thought to be true.

    • Bella

      How is any worse than Taylor Swift making an entire career out of her personal life?

  • Lou

    Ok, so this is not about this episode in particular, and I’m going to be a downer again, but I feel like I need to get this off my chest.
    The fact is, I just don’t see the same nuance and intelligence, the introspection, the kindness and the thoughtfulness that I’d come to expect from pretty much every single out-of-character interview of Stephen. Even in-character Stephen was more appealing to me. It’s as if you could see him better through his character than you can through his talk-show host persona, and that persona is often one that I don’t particularly like. I’ve been wondering if it might – at least in part – have something to do with the Ed Sullivan Theater itself. The space is too big and it forces Stephen to overact his entertainer persona, or overact ‘himself.’ It might also be that the idea of ‘being a host,’ and all that that entails in late-night, is more constraining than playing a character. Seven months in and I still can’t put my doubts to rest. I keep thinking that Stephen is better than his show, and I don’t understand why he thought this was the next step for him creatively. I really can’t. This is not to say that there aren’t segments and interviews I thoroughly enjoy, but I do find myself going back to older videos and interviews to remember why I admire him and love his comedy so much… I just don’t like the feeling The Late Show leaves me with. I feel like he needed to run in the opposite direction. Go more intimate, more personal, more kooky, not go for what ‘felt like a promotion’ or what “had a laurel wreath on it.”

    • Gina

      Lou, we respect your opinion and you are welcome to share it at any time. This is why we have the Hub. Overall, I really like his interviews. At least with Stephen you know you are going to have someone involved who is one of the best informed hosts out there. When it comes to a perspective on politics, due to his background there is no one better. He does sputter a bit with the celebutantes, but to be fair, they are not used to his authentic and sincere questions. Their goal is to come on and say the minimum possible. I think that’s why Fallon invented all those parlor games, he wasn’t interested in teasing out click-baitable soundbites night after night. He created a way for it to happen which is effective for his show. At some point, Stephen will figure out how to bridge the gap with the celebutantes, I imagine he is determined to strike that right balance.

      Overall, this episode felt a little clunky to me. Definitely funny moments, but for someone who has done some amazing pieces on race relations his naiveté about black folks and such either reveals that he has been a little sheltered or is a product of his generation and/or both. I think he needs to hang out with Jon & the band and gain a little perspective. It’s a good thing to branch out a bit.

      As for going for the promotion aspect, some people said to me when Stephen announced he was taking over for Letterman, “big mistake, biggest mistake of his life,” and he was “doing it for the money,” etc. Of course it hurt to hear those things. It is true that there wasn’t one “bad” episode of TCR. It was a flawless show, really. The comedy fit him and his comedic sensibility to a tee. But either way, Stephen wanted to end that show. Now he is here, and this is what he is doing. Hopefully, he and his team can work the bugs out, but the past is past and the show we have now is what we have, so let’s enjoy it and enjoy him. I think we would rather have him here and not like Jon, who is now off the air and we all miss his perspective.

      I do think it would have been good if Stephen had explained all of this during the transition. He never really addressed his decision to the fans, the people who appreciated his work the most. The podcasts kind of helped, but still he didn’t really make the Colbert Nation a part of his/their process. A couple YouTube videos, maybe a little fan Q & A would have gone a long way.

      • sharilyn_j

        Not talking about the transition is still baffling to me. Didn’t do a single interview about the end of the show. Obviously wasn’t going to talk about it while promoting the new show. He’s certainly not obligated to do anything he doesn’t want to do, but dammit some of us are interested.

    • Katt

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • DeeCee

      I largely agree. While LSSC has had some fine moments, I don’t think the show consistently displays the heart or intellect of TCR. I thought Stephen might “blow up” the typical late night format and do something really different but that didn’t happen. I still prefer LSSC to the other late night offerings, but not nearly by the margin I was expecting.

    • sharilyn_j

      Very well-said, Lou. I do enjoy the show, and I do look forward to growing old with it. But I find myself wondering what happened to that strong sense of connection Stephen’s always had with his audience. It always felt like such an honest relationship, weirdly.

      It wasn’t until reading your comment that I went back and re-read this little thing I put up on HuffPo shortly after the announcement was made: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharilyn-johnson/why-colbert-fans-arent-celebrating_b_5244135.html

      I remember writing that and having to force myself to inject some optimism into the end, lest I look like a fool two years later. But here we are. He didn’t give us any more offers for games at the end of TCR. He hasn’t found new ways of engaging with us on the new show (and their social presence is garbage). There’s just no role for the viewers to play. We’re passive observers.

      He’s not putting on a show *with* us anymore. He’s putting on a show *at* us.

      You may well be on the right track with the size of the space. I keep thinking back to the convo at the end of the outtakes of the Conan rumble, and the things he said in the podcast about the set design trying to bring things down and how he wants to be able to look every audience member in the eye.

      I still think this is a perfectly workable format of show for him to be at his best. They just need to get some things figured out. It hasn’t been a smooth ride, but we’ll just have to see where the evolution takes us/him.

      (See, I’m still good with the whole optimism-at-the-end thing!)

      • Joanna

        The “with us” thing is a brilliant observation. I agree wholeheartedly.

    • Vansen

      It’s really interesting to read all your comments on this topic, and it’s something I’ve thought a lot about too. It’s particularly fascinating for me because I started watching LSSC first, and then went back and checked out TCR and Colbert’s out-of-character interviews, so I’m travelling in the opposite direction to most of the Hubsters.

      I agree with Lou in that Colbert’s out-of-character interviews often have a lot of heart and kindness, but I do think that there’s more opportunity for that when he’s the sole focus of an interview, whereas on LSSC, his role is more that of the entertaining catalyst for other people’s stories. And I suspect it might be exhausting, for both Colbert and the audience, to see him that vulnerable and introspective all the time.

      Colbert has mentioned in several interviews that he wanted to end TCR partly because he wanted the opportunity to be himself, and to be authentic about his interests. While his TCR character was satire at its best, I love that LSSC has allowed Colbert to get excited about gravitational waves, and talk seriously about Black Lives Matter with DeRay Mckesson–things he couldn’t have done on the old show.

      I think part of the challenge facing LSSC is fine-tuning Colbert’s “talk-show persona”, especially when he played his old character for so long, and that character was so beloved and perfectly crafted for delivering satire. I imagine it’s difficult trying to figure out what audiences want to see, and what’s going to work in a variety show format.

      It seems to me that over the last few months, several sub-personas have taken shape. There’s the authentic Colbert, who had a moving conversation with Joe Biden, and said some fine things about the late Alan Rickman. There’s the deadpan satirist Colbert, who moderated the Trump vs Trump debate, and sidled into the Lee/Lincoln piece. There’s the endearingly reproachable Colbert who haunts the Midnight Confessions box, and there’s the song and dance Colbert who breaks out at every opportunity. Each of these personas allows him to do something different, and I really enjoy seeing each of these.

      The one persona that still feels a little uneven to me is Colbert as interviewer. His recent conversation with Julia Louis-Dreyfus made me wonder if he’s trying to be “eleven” with all of his guests, when it might be okay to be an eight or nine sometimes. Many of the interviews I’ve enjoyed are the ones where he’s more relaxed, and not trying so hard for the comedy bullseye. Obviously, it depends on the guest, but a touch more thoughtfulness and heart rarely goes amiss.

      But overall, I’m really enjoying the show, and I love that they still have deadpan-satire-Colbert in their toolkit.

      • Rita

        It is wonderful to hear a new Colbert fan’s prospective on the show. Thank you!

    • Joanna

      Lou, I’ve been feeling exactly the same way. He’s too smart and edgy for this to be happening. I also have been watching old stuff because I miss him…feels like a body snatcher got him. When I see a skit that I love my heart skips a beat and I think, ‘He’s back! He’s figured it out.’ Then there’ll be something so beneath his abilities I almost cry. Everyone who hosts a show is a little bit in character. I recall the Stephen of ‘Strangers with Candy’ and the brilliant writing–and his Senior Foreign Correspondent on The Daily Show who would make me laugh just seeing him appear, then The Colbert Report and I am beyond flummoxed. I ache for him. He’s too intuitive to not feel some of what you have expressed and what, up until now, I’ve been loathe to put in print because I love him so and feel protective of him. I wish he’d do more skits and stuff out on the streets and interviews where he CAN be a similar persona to The Daily Show. Just that look he used to have of “I’m arrogant yet constantly wrong”–genius. I will never stop watching or hoping. I feel there are too many guests and not enough Stephen. I wish he’d gotten something like John Oliver has…or at least a sidekick he can bounce stuff off of because he’s quick as lightening but seems constrained by the ‘Late Night’ talk show format. He’s still my hero.

      • K.V. Lady

        I wish Jon Stewart would be his sidekick, even though I know that will never happen. The two of them together are funnier than either one is alone.

        • Vansen

          I’d love to see Stewart and Colbert working together more often. They’re great in their own projects, but when they’re together, they’re unstoppable.

        • Joanna

          I agree though I wish they could do both because were so talented at their own thing. Their like brothers and the sparks and laughter fly when together for sure.

  • K.V. Lady

    Despite what others have said, I really felt like the “old” Colbert was back (minus the character) last night…he made a gay marriage joke, a robot joke, a balls joke, AND a bear joke!

  • Rita

    I’m pretty new to Colbert compared to the rest of you. I really like the new show. I love Colbert and it is so tiring hearing you old Colbert fans complain all the time. We get it: Everything was better before! But your festering disappointment really is a downer for us newbies.

    • Gina

      I am not disappointed! Keep loving Colbert! 😉

    • Vansen

      I’m fairly new to Colbert too, and I’m also really enjoying LSSC! But I do find it interesting to hear the thoughts of long-time fans, partly because I love analysing shows and performers, and it also gives me a better context for the commentary I read elsewhere. I think the fans on this forum want Colbert’s show to be a success, so most of the comments are intended to be constructive, but I do understand what you mean about the comparisons between TCR and LSSC. They’re very different shows, and while I like what I’ve seen of TCR, I’m incredibly grateful that LSSC allows Colbert to geek out over space archaeology, learn to tap dance, and get adorably excited about being called “blackish”. There’s room for improvement, but it’s a damn fine show 🙂

      • Rita

        I too love Colbert’s true unironic enthusiasm about different subjects! I just want to point out that I loved TCR and I’m truly grateful that the show existed for 9 years. What a fantastic show that was! And I agree that there are plenty of room for improvements of LSSC, but the show is just an infant. I wish people would let it grow into itself without the constant comparison with TCR. Thank you for your comments! I’m so glad you are on board. Gives me hope for the future! (NB! English is not my first language so if I use expressions wrong, please tell me)

        • Vansen

          Thanks for your comments too. One of the things I like about the Hub is the diverse array of opinions, shared respectfully. I agree that LSSC is still finding its feet, and doing so under the weight of enormous expectations and intense public scrutiny. Furthermore, it’s trying to do something different to the other late-night shows, from a stronger political focus to inviting more cerebral guests to having an unconventional band. It’s ambitious, but I like ambitious. I also agree with sharilyn_j that there’s value in the opinions of long-time fans who can provide a broader context for what Colbert has done before and what he’s capable of doing in the future.

          One thing I do find exciting is the fact that the Colbert Nation seems to be evolving along with Colbert. Some old fans might leave, but new fans are finding their way here.

          Btw, your English is very good 🙂

          • Gina

            I agree that the fandom is evolving along with Mr. Colbert & the show, and some old fans are leaving. But new fans are coming along nicely too, as you mention!

    • sharilyn_j

      If we were disappointed, we wouldn’t watch. Commenters on the Hub have the most thought-out and reasonable criticism of any forum — if you want to see bitching and moaning, go to the show’s Facebook and read comments from loons who are mad Stephen’s no longer a warrior in their political army, or go to the /r/lateshow subreddit where every second self-post harps on a tiny detail that supposedly “ruins” the show.

      Most of us “old” people have a perspective that I argue is valuable. We’ve watched him evolve a show before, and we know what he’s been capable of in the past. (And just speaking for myself, I’ve worked in comedy for a number of years, which certainly gives me the right to weigh in on creative/production choices.)

      You can certainly disagree with anything anyone says. But if you’re interpreting all our comments as “everything was better before,” you’re not reading closely enough.

      • Rita

        Really? I didn’t know the Colbert Nation had so many petty souls in it. Or maybe they were never fans and are just trolling the mentioned sites? I hope so. It is good to hear that you are not disappointed with the show. It is also good to hear that you like some aspects of the new show better than TCR. Maybe we can build a new Colbert Nation together? 🙂

        • Gina

          I think we need to build a new fandom and make it a happy place. I like the new people coming to our site, and I appreciate their enthusiasm and energy. I like to be objective, though, too, and look at things realistically, but as Vansen said, our comments here are always meant to be constructive and we definitely, definitely want Mr. C and his hive mind to thrive.

    • DeeCee

      I would hope that you could be considerate of long time posters point of view, just as we should always be appreciative of the viewpoints of newer Colbert viewers.