Stephen Colbert cruised through a live edition of CBS’ “The Late Show” on Tuesday, thanks to plenty of material from President Trump’s State of the Union address and a lively segment with “2 Dope Queens” hosts Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson.
Colbert offered his annotated commentary on highlights from Trump’s 90-minute speech to Congress. Among the zingers he delivered at the Ed Sullivan Theater were jabs about brewing scandal over Trump’s alleged affair and 2016 payoff of porn star Stormy Daniels.
- Colbert invoked his peevish Trump impression after a clip of the President praising “beautiful clean coal.” “If I weren’t burning coal I might be dating it,” he said.
- To Trump’s promise of reducing the cost of prescription drugs, Colbert responded: “Drugs would have really helped me get through his speech.”
- Trump’s promise of offering “love and loyalty” to all people in America brought the retort: “If the government isn’t that loyal with their love they get $130,000 to keep quiet about it.”
- Trump touted the recent tax reform legislation that makes the first $24,000 of income earned by married couples tax-free. “A benefit Trump will be enjoying for at least a few more weeks,” Colbert said.
- Colbert’s best line was not about Trump but Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), a rising star who delivered the Democratic response to Trump’s speech. Or as Colbert referred to the tall redheaded Congressman: “Conan O’Brien.”
The live staging of the episode went off without a hitch. During commercial breaks, Colbert conferred with “Late Show” executive producer Chris Licht briefly but mostly moved around the set, hamming it up with members of the audience. In the brief pre-show Q&A, Colbert told the crowd the guest he most wanted to have on the show was Pope Francis. He also showed off his ability to speak French and his bona fides as a “Star Trek” geek.
During the show, “Pod Save America” hosts Tommy Vietor, Jon Favreau, and Jon Lovitt were on hand to offer a harsh assessment of Trump’s speech and his first year in office. Favreau said Trump appeared to be “reading a hostage statement” and “didn’t use his Twitter voice.”
Williams and Robinson followed, admitting that neither of them watched Trump’s address. “How are two dope queens dealing with the man from Queens,” Colbert asked the pair. Robinson replied: “I’ve been listening to Mary J. Blige non-stop and bathing in cocoa butter.”
“We’re like, ‘Black Panther’ is coming out in two weeks. We don’t have time for this,” Williams said of Trump’s speech.
Robinson and Williams dubbed Colbert a “zaddy,” or a “hot dude” with attitude — to Colbert’s delight.
The show finished out with a mock-serious taped bit from Michael Weatherly, whose Tuesday night CBS drama “Bull” was preempted by the State of the Union. “I speak on behalf of all Tuesday shows in primetime,” Weatherly said. “We’re preempting what it means to be an American.”
Country star Chris Stapleton closed out the telecast with a soulful rendition of “Drunkard’s Prayer,” from his Grammy-winning album, “From a Room: Volume 2.” (As he waited to go on, Stapleton did his own version of scatting with “Late Show” bandleader Jon Batiste, and he declared himself to be a “zaddy” too.)
Colbert had all of seven seconds to say goodnight after Stapleton’s performance. He joked that it was the Conan O’Brien joke that put him over on time. “Somebody was going to make that joke,” he said. “And I wanted to beat ’em to it.”