As Stephen Colbert’s Strangers With Candy co-star Amy Sedaris once said, when it doubt, go with what you know. In their new New York Times profile, Colbert and his Late Show showrunner Christ Licht discuss The Late Show’s more overtly political tone, a change that is both an obvious appeal to Colbert Report fans and a return to the host’s natural skill set. It’s also, you know, kind of unavoidable during an election season. With The Late Show trailing The Tonight Show and, on occasion, Jimmy Kimmel Live! in the ratings, Colbert now characterizes his confident leap into his current position as “hubris.” As indicated by this week’s live post-debate shows, a brief resurrection of his Colbert Report character, and a visit to the RNC, Colbert seems to be returning to more comfortable territory: pointed satire. Now that his late-night compatriots Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and, unwittingly, Jimmy Fallon have joined the political commentating fray, Colbert apparently looks back with some chagrin at his September 2015 interview with Donald Trump.
“I tried being gracious and pointed at the same time, and got almost nothing out of him,” Colbert recalls. “It was actually boring, because he wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Being nice to a guy who isn’t nice to other people, it doesn’t serve you that much.” If the two ever sit down together again, the tenor of their exchange might be much different. Says Colbert, “I’ve surrendered to my natural instincts, and to how I actually feel on a daily basis.”