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First take/Colbert

The job that a first paragraph of a book has is to get you to read the next one, and establish some interest in reading the pages after that. So, presumably, was the central job of Stephen Colbert’s first show last night as host of Late Night, which also had the job of showing he could do this new thing as well or better than his old one, which was hosting the Colbert Report – which was a work of near-genius. It may be that the Report was something that just couldn’t be followed or matched, and it may be that Colbert becomes just another in the crowd of late-night hosts. First show demonstrated without doubt he is fully capable of doing that; the question is, can he create and break barriers and inform while entertaining on something like the level of the Report, or even beyond it? Freed from having to work inside his “character” (although most of the time he doesn’t really come off all that differently), the possibility of a major new invention is there. But that’s as yet unclear. The first Colbert Late Night followed the usual contours of a late night talk show, in outline not so different from David Letterman’s show. The energy level was high, and Colbert seemed beyond delighted to be there. But there isn’t yet, as there was on the Report from the beginning, much of a sense of something very new and different – something you just had to stay up to 12:30 a.m. to see. But it fell just short of that: This was an entertaining show with enough going on, and enough of interest (and just enough you’d want to talk about the next day) that you do want to see what comes next. So I’ll check it out again tonight; it was good enough to make me curious about what comes next. And maybe, possibly, the page after that. – rs

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