Stephen Colbert leaps onto stage with Pearl Jam for ”Rockin’ in the Free World’

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Colbert’s magic trick: Taming GOP firebreathers Trump and Cruz.

LOS ANGELES ( — As Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump watches his lead in the polls narrow due to a recent rise in popularity for rival Carly Fiorina, the candidates’ battle is increasingly playing out on television. Trump began the morning by announcing he would no longer be appearing on the Fox News Channel “for the foreseeable future” because he felt slighted by its treatment during his Republican run for president.

An uncharacteristically subdued Donald Trump refused to say whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States on Tuesday night during his highly-anticipated first appearance alongside Stephen Colbert on CBS’ “The Late Show.” Colbert pressed Trump to definitively say that Obama is a U.S. citizen, but Trump deflected the question (which the host described as a “big fat meatball” the candidate could “hit out of the park”), saying “I don’t talk about it anymore.” Trump has been giving voice to erroneous rumors about the president’s origins for years.Donald Trump says he’s done appearing on Fox News shows for the “foreseeable future” because he doesn’t like the network’s coverage of his presidential campaign.NEW YORK — On Monday night’s episode of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” the eponymous host, while talking to Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, did something wonderful, something that seemed like a definitive statement of purpose for his new late-night program: He told his audience to stop booing Ted Cruz.

When Donald Trump first announced his campaign for the presidency this summer, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart called it a “gift from heaven,” while Tina Fey—who has gotten plenty of ammunition from Republican candidates in the past—declared it “great for comedy!” And they were right. Leaving Comedy Central and an audience of just over 1 million for a network and an audience three times as large was certain to carry with it an adjustment. Fox News contends Trump had an upcoming interview on The O’Reilly Factor, which was canceled by the show for an unspecified reason, and that is what set off the billionaire business mogul.

Trump’s past speculation about Obama’s place of birth has received renewed scrutiny after an attendee at a recent New Hampshire rally for the Republican candidate called the president a Muslim. The billionaire businessman and leading Republican candidate tweets that Fox News has been treating him “very unfairly” and that he’s going to stop appearing on its shows.

As Cruz was attempting, with more success than you might think, to come across as moderate and reasonable, Colbert, respectfully, pressed him on an issue on which Cruz is outside the mainstream: Gay marriage. Over the past few months, Stewart and Fey and everyone in-between has been having plenty of fun at the expense of The Donald and his enigmatic coiffure. Later in the day, Trump defended his original comments about his Fox News boycott and proceeded to hit back by — what else? — boasting about his poll numbers and TV guest ratings. “Mr.

But a Fox News spokeswoman says that Trump only announced his boycott after the channel canceled a scheduled Trump appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” Thursday. As Cruz tried to explain that it should be an issue for the states, the crowd-like all New York city talk show crowds, not one predisposed to agree with Cruz on much-began to jeer him. Though Stewart has, sadly, since retired from The Daily Show, there is still an army of late-night hosts with the opportunity to hold Trump—who is still leading in the polls—accountable for the offensive rhetoric he spews.

Calling him a “ten billion dollar mouth,” the “Late Show” host had Trump sign a copy of his book “The Art of the Deal” for Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz (his second guest), tried to get him to apologize to anyone he’s ever offended (the candidate wouldn’t), and even engaged him in role-playing as a fictional president of Mexico negotiating payment for the massive border wall the candidate is proposing. “We have to have a wall,” Trump insisted amid what appeared to be facetious cheers from the audience. “In that wall we’re going to have a wonderful, big fat door … a beautiful door where people can come into the country but they have to come in legally,” he added. In Colbert’s first show, when he had Jeb Bush on, the first thing he did was thank him for coming on. “I could never get as many Republicans to come on my last show,” he told him. But over two weeks into his new show and after a lineup of political guests that includes Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, we can now start to see that the new show offers an entirely new angle on late night.

Ted Cruz (who the real estate mogul praised as a “good man”), the host acknowledged playing the role an “over-the-top conservative” but “not as long as you did.” The interview concluded with a game where Colbert prompted Trump to guess whether a quote came from him or the host’s faux conservative alter ego from his former Comedy Central series “The Colbert Report”. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that the Jimmys—who are more class clowns than they are biting satirists—didn’t bring out the big guns when tackling Trump. Colbert wasn’t as chummy and borderline-fawning the way that Jimmy Fallon was when Trump was on “The Tonight Show” last week. (Fallon’s show is becoming so all-denominations-welcome-even/especially-the-lowest-common-one that it’s nearly content-free at this point; he is morphing into Jay Leno before our very eyes.) But Colbert wasn’t an attack dog either.

He had fun with Trump (how could you not?), but also showed him something that resembled respect-which turns out to be a core value of Colbert’s new show. Jake Byrd to a Trump rally in Texas, but the targets of this segment were really the clueless Trump supporters (one lady chanted “D.T.F.” along with Byrd, mistakenly thinking it meant “Donald Trump Forever”).

Monday’s Tonight, also aided by strong primetime premieres for NBC, brought a 18-month high for that night thanks to a visit from GOP candidate Carly Fiorina. This was essentially a Trumped-up edition of Kimmel’s popular “Lie Witness News” segment, and the antics aimed at Trump himself during the rally were actually pretty gentle. As Politico pointed out, Trump was subdued, but it wasn’t because he was cowed, or just tired. (Trump is usually subdued only when he’s tired.) He just didn’t quite seem to know what to do with Colbert, and therefore defaulted into simply being a person. Trump is usually attacking, or is self-consciously absurd, but with Colbert, who tried to engage him as a human, Trump the political performer seemed to recede, something one would imagine impossible. Perhaps his most highly-promoted cable news appearance, in the wake of the first debate, brought Fox News’ Sean Hannity a 138 percent jump in the news demographic of adults 25-54.

Not only was he unfailingly able to choose which statements he’d said in the past and which had been said by Colbert’s old character, he even knew not to attribute the trick question, actually said by Charles Manson, to himself. And considering both Colbert and Fallon’s anxious bookings for politicos so early in the 2016 presidential race, and the viewers’ undeniable response, don’t be surprised if repeat performances are lined up in the not-too-distant future. How do you plan to do that?” And Trump, taking full advantage of the segment structure, replied, “Since I’m you, why don’t you tell me?” Fallon did manage to wrest one bit of important commentary from Trump, at least.

I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.” If anyone was in a position to take up the Stewart mantle and pin a slippery Trump down, it would be Stewart’s old Comedy Central buddy Stephen Colbert. In the warmup, when he announced the interview, he claimed: “Who knows, one day I may be able to tell my grandkids I interviewed the last president of the United States.” It was classic Colbert and it managed to slam the demagoguery of Trump while being smooth and non-aggressive. For example, his emotional and personal interview with Vice President Joe Biden offered an unprecedented on-air glimpse of the man behind the character.

It’s possible that all this gentle teasing from Colbert, Kimmel, and Fallon and their after-hours cohorts, like Seth Meyers and James Corden, will be enough to bring down Trump. What a bounty!” It was an example of truly sharp political satire at its best and it is a form of comedy that really never happens on either Jimmy Fallon’s or Jimmy Kimmel’s shows. We’ve yet to see what Bee and Noah will do behind their respective desks—though Noah is already bracing us to lower our expectations—but none of the new cable hosts on the block yet have the power, audience, or influence that Stewart once enjoyed. Even better, by assuming the role of Stanley Tucci’s Flickerman Colbert also mocked his own role as a media figure who takes profit and pleasure from the spectacle of U.S. politics. I’m not going to say this stuff writes itself, but you certainly do deliver it on time every day.” Trump looked like a deer in the headlights, appearing to not even get the joke.

The fact that Trump did not flinch when asked to compare his statements to those of a character was the perfect way to subtly satirize everything Trump stands for. He is doing that by crafting a show that appeals to the network masses while also being smarter and more politically insightful than any other comparable show. What is surprising is that, in addition to softening some of his comedy, he still has his edge and he still offers the public a healthy menu of political comedy that is smart and effective.

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