After ducking into the Ed Sullivan Theatre for a surprise last-minute walk-in taping of The Late Show with David Letterman that starred Whoopi Goldberg and Jimmy Page (neither of whom were playing the guitar) m’lady and I dashed a half-dozen blocks west and got in line for our original quarry of the day, a taping of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report.
This was back when Colbert was still in character as a narcissistic truth-shifting right-wing Bush-loving pundit. In other words: back when he was funny. Okay, that’s not very nice and I guess it’s misleading. While there’s no doubt that the show was funnier when Colbert had the freedom to say the craziest stuff while simultaneously stepping away from his words with the slightest raise of a sarcastic eyebrow, I will freely admit that once I got over the shock of seeing the “real” Stephen Colbert (which took about eighteen months) I started finding him funny again.
Matter of fact, Colbert is currently second on my list of favoured monologues to watch during my morning spin (that’s what the kids call riding an exercise bike, right?), second to Seth Meyers who vaulted from “never watch him” to “my preferred choice” during the pandemic. It’s not like I actually want to start laughing while I’m panting and out of breath, so Seth is perfect.
Anyway, we waited in line for the requisite forty-five minutes or so before being ushered in to sit in the small studio for another extended wait and then finally the show commenced. Though I’ve attended quite a few of these show tapings over the years it still takes me by surprise how fast the program goes by once it finally gets started. In this case the whirlwind slowed down somewhat when guest Steven Johnson came out for his interview. I was (and remain) wholly unfamiliar with the guy, and after so recently witnessing both Whoopi and Jimmy Page engage in witty and interesting chats with Letterman the relatively ho-hum author dragged on a bit.
That said, in an entertainment-minutes versus sit-around-and-wait-minutes ratio it was a mere blink of the eye before the taping was over and we were back out on the bustling streets of New York City. For his part, Colbert would have just twenty more episodes of his Report remaining before he replaced the retiring David Letterman and moved his show over to the Ed Sullivan Theatre, putting an end to his fake punditry and showing the world what the real fake tv Stephen Colbert was like.