Is the New Late Show the Old Colbert Report?

Is it all in the host?

I have had no problem accepting The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. On the other hand, I continue to struggle with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Colbert has taken Letterman’s show and made it his own. The new Late Show seems almost like a rebirth of The Colbert Report, of which I was a big fan.

(AP Photo/CBS, John Paul Filo)

Sure, the new show has differences. Stephen makes an entrance, dances with his band leader and delivers the traditional standing monologue to open the show. Once he gets behind the desk, however, the show is virtually indistinguishable from The Colbert Report.

Another difference is the double length. Instead of one short interview in the last 15 minutes of the show, Stephen now typically does a pair of interviews in the last half-hour. If one or both of the guests doesn’t particularly interest me, I always have the fast-forward button option.

I’m sure that part of my acceptance of the new Late Show is that I rarely watched Letterman after the first few years. I can’t be uncomfortable about changes in the show when I’m unfamiliar with the old format.

I do pity poor Stephen in one respect. As host of the Colbert Report, he was working a grueling four-day week totaling about 80 on-air minutes. Now, he’s working five days a week and logging about 200 minutes in front of the camera. That’s a workload increase of approximately 250 percent. I hope he can handle the strain.

Going back to my issues with new The Daily Show, it must simply come down to the host, because the show format is pretty much the same. I always felt that Jon Stewart was speaking from the heart, whereas Noah seems more like an act, a sit-down version of a stand-up comedy routine.

I suspect that I would have absolutely no difficulty in accepting Stewart as the new host of The Tonight Show. Sorry, Jimmy.

New Daily Show Not Enough

I’ve been watching The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for nine episodes now. I’m still waiting for it to “click” — and trying to put my finger on just why I’m still waiting for that to happen.

Obviously, I miss Jon Stewart. I wish him well in his new professional wrestling career.

Stewart’s unique personality was deeply embedded in The Daily Show DNA. Simply putting someone else in his chair is not enough.

Sure, they’ve changed the opening credits and the set. The earth now rotates in the astronomically correct direction, which should please Neil deGrasse Tyson when he makes his inevitable first guest appearance on the show. Not enough.

The format is largely unchanged. Noah opens with his commentary. This is followed by a series of video clips on some of the more bizarre recent news developments, correspondent “interviews” and/or “on location” (green screen) reports, and a celebrity interview. Each show ends with a “moment of zen.” Not enough.

The funny thing is, I didn’t have this problem when John Oliver took over for Stewart for an extended period while Stewart worked on his film Rosewater. I thought I would have trouble accepting Oliver as a British national passing judgment on American political stupidity, but I did not. That rules out Noah’s South African origins as the source of my issue with the new show.

Maybe I found Oliver more acceptable because I knew Stewart would eventually return. Maybe it was because I was familiar with Oliver through his frequent presence on the show as a correspondent during the Stewart years. Noah made a few appearances near the end of Stewart’s tenure, but he was still pretty much an unknown to me when he took the helm. Maybe it was because Oliver is just damn funny.

Hmm. I wonder how long Oliver’s contract with HBO for Last Week Tonight runs. Really, one night a week with John Oliver is not enough.