Letting Stephen Colbert Be Stephen Colbert (Whoever That Is)

arguing that Mr. Colbert’s insistence on personally orchestrating details big and small — lighting, script approval, budgets — was diverting his focus from his own performance and that he needed the help.

.. But I found myself feeling the same way a few months ago when Donald J. Trump announced his plan for “a total and complete” ban on Muslims’ entering the United States after the San Bernardino terrorist attack. I was curious to see what Mr. Colbert would make of it.

I was agog when he opened the show with three lingerie models from a CBS Victoria’s Secret special that was to air the next night, wearing angel’s wings and eating hot wings. Even Mr. Colbert appeared to blanch at what came off as an example of corporate synergy gone awry.

.. CBS officials say they didn’t force the Victoria’s Secret tie-in. But it seemed to typify how a big broadcaster will grab what’s special and cool on cable and try pressing it into the advertiser-friendly, safe-for-broad-audiences mold.

Stephen Colbert delivers his own speech in Palin-ese. And it’s spot-on. [Video]

We had some fun with her endorsement of Donald Trump on Wednesday morning, and by Wednesday night, Stephen Colbert did the same. On the “Late Show,” Colbert first thanked his lucky stars Palin was back on the scene — labeling her the (joke) “Material Girl” — and then delivering his own rendition of a Palin endorsement speech, complete with the unique style mentioned above (this part starts at about the 4 minute mark).

The Colbert Rapport

As anyone who has ever watched Jimmy Fallon knows, the job of a late-night talk-show host features a great deal of enthusiastic shilling for people, places, and things. Hosting is the ability to align one’s charm—or, in Colbert’s case, his decency and intelligence—with brands. Letterman was famously terrible at this part of the job. I’ll miss that level of incompetence.

.. Colbert did one gentle ambush, which involved a staged interaction with his own brother, designed to elicit a genuine answer from Jeb: Could he name a policy difference between himself and his brother George? In response, Jeb simply emphasized, once again, that, unlike George, he was a small-government conservative who favored “fiscal restraint.” No one brought up the war. Colbert is smart. But the toothlessness was unnerving.