As the nation has watched the surreal political theater unfolding in Cleveland, Colbert and his team at “The Late Show” have been pulling out all the stops each night at 11:35 p.m. They’ll repeat the feat next week during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
“We really felt that we fulfilled the mission of what we’re trying to do as a late-night show this week,” says show runner Chris Licht in an interview Friday afternoon.
“One of the missions of this show is to be as topical and relevant as possible. We cannot do that during a convention week without being live.”‘.
In his off-duty beard and a backward FDNY baseball cap, Stewart occasionally weighs in with colorful words of encouragement and the odd reference to the Coen brothers film “The Hudsucker Proxy.”
Colbert runs through a monologue riffing on Trump’s NATO blunder and awkward air kiss with running mate Mike Pence, virtually all of which is scrapped for convention coverage in the live show.
The bit plays well in rehearsal, its success fueled by the obvious chemistry between Stewart and Colbert, who pops out from below the desk to explain the Taylor Swift-Kim Kardashian feud and to admonish Stewart for mocking Arby’s.
At roughly 12:16 a.m., the show begins with a cold open featuring the night’s first guest, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and playing on the rumors she’ll be Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Stewart adds to the live version a pointed reference to the lack of Republican support for 9/11 first responders, and a pithy recap of the convention’s key themes.