A Rare Glimmer of Substance in Late Night TV

From the article in the Atlantic:

Oprah, perhaps knowing his background, asked him what his favorite verse was.

“Mine’s from Matthew,” Colbert replied. “I like it because Jesus says, ‘So I say to you, do not worry, for who among you by worrying could change a hair on his head, or add a cubit to the span of his life?’”

He added: “What I like about it is that it’s a commandment to not worry, and I’ll go with that.”

Then it was Oprah’s turn. “Mine is Psalms 37:4,” she said. “‘Delight thyself’—I love that word ‘delight,’ don’t you? I’m so glad that David knew it,” she said (referring to King David, the author of the Psalms).

She continued, quoting the full verse, “Delight thyself in the Lord. He will give you the desires of your heart.”

That’s from an account of a discussion last night on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.  I find this striking because I can’t remember time I heard of a conversation of real substance on a network late-night show.  Regardless of your feelings about religion or Oprah, at least the conversation is more than surface level.  You rarely see that in late night TV.

At this point, major network late night talk shows are just awful.  They’re mindless and very rarely funny.  The worst offender right now is Jimmy Fallon, whose Tonight Show is more concerned with creating two-minute snippets that might go viral than with allowing any guest to be genuine, edgy or thought-provoking.  Fallon is really bad.  It’s probably Jay Leno’s fault; Leno made a success of himself being as innocuous as possible at all times.  What a snooze.  God forbid anyone should share a compelling idea or opinion.

Enter Colbert.  I watched a bit of Stephen Colbert’s first night on The Late Show back in September and haven’t seen it since.  But from what I keep reading it appears that he’s making a real effort to add some substance to the late night talk show format.  His guests have included politicians and business moguls, and he makes a genuine effort to get into a real discussion with them.  This can only be a good thing.  Keep it up and I might actually start watching.

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