Yesterday, I wondered whether the May 9 Daily Show reunion on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert would be a nostalgia trip or a Trump roast. Well, turns out it was a bit of both. While savaging Trump’s fresh-as-they-taped firing of FBI director James Comey and Trump’s health care bill, Colbert and his guests — Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Rob Corddry, and Ed Helms — sat around on a big sofa swapping war stories.
Colbert’s former boss Stewart came out first, however, for his own segment, and proved once again that the late night show retiree would really like to get back in the game. He had semiserious stuff to say about Trump and Bill O’Reilly, even as he insisted he would “never give up” all the great things about retirement, such as “time spent with family.” Yes, Jon Stewart said the same thing disgraced politicians say when they try to gloss over why they’re leaving public life.
Stewart also addressed the controversy over Colbert’s recent crude joke about Trump. “You have a potty mouth,” Stewart mock-scolded Colbert, adopting a faux “snowflake” mode: “I don’t feel comfortable around you!” Then, again turning serious, Stewart said, “The things you say, even if they’re crass, even if they’re not respectful enough to the office of the presidency — we can insult, he can injure… I cannot understand why, in this country, we hold comedians to a standard we don’t hold leaders to.” Aww, Jon, give it a rest. I think Colbert holds the president to the same standards he holds himself to, which is one reason he finds Trump wanting.
During the lengthy big-couch segments, Stewart monopolized the conversation, barely letting Corddry and Helms say a word. Bee and Oliver fared better with a couple of choice anecdotes about working on remote-location taped bits during their Daily Show tenures (“I had to flee the Klan one night”; “I had to spend time with the worst homophobes, and some of the worst people in the world…”). What quickly became clear was that show-business hierarchy prevailed, with each guest permitted to speak in direct proportion to the amount of TV success he or she presently has.
Colbert was thoughtful enough to reach out to present Daily Show host Trevor Noah to include him in a taped sketch at the top of the show. What came through in this reunion most clearly, though, is that, as far as Stewart is concerned, he’s still the boss — of a golden era that’s gone. We’re now in the gilded era of Trump, with Colbert in charge, and it looks like that’s eating away at Stewart.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS
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