Stephen Colbert came back from his spring break with a new show on Monday night that reminded us how much things have changed since Donald Trump assumed the presidency, and why so many newscasters look exhausted these days. Colbert said he needed to catch up: In the week he’d been away, Trump had unleashed 59 Tomahawk missiles on Syria — or, as Trump calls it when he’s interviewed on the Fox Business Network, “Iraq” — and also detonated a massive bomb in Afghanistan. “Was this the right thing to do?” asked Colbert, adding, “I don’t know — I watch American television, so I have no idea what’s going on in Afghanistan.” Few people in the studio audience laughed at that line — can it be that some citizens are becoming ashamed of the lousy job the American news media does covering foreign affairs? Nah…
Colbert continued to list what he’d missed in a mere week of Trump-time. “The place Trump really wants to bomb is North Korea,” he said. He ran footage of the military display that country put on over the weekend, and the footage of the North Korean army marching in impeccable unison allowed Colbert to do what he loves to do with the slightest excuse: execute Radio City Rockettes-style high kicks, as an illustration of how North Korea does “goosestepping with a pop.”
While Colbert was on vacation, I wondered one day how long his show could maintain its constant barrage of Trump-themed humor, how long he could continue to attract a large audience while pursuing the president who has become his Moby Dick, the target of his harpoon/lampoons. But Monday night’s show suggested just how bottomless the well of things Trump is throwing down it truly is. Colbert scored solid, if easy, laughs by putting onscreen an entry from the White House Snapchat account, in which Betsy DeVos is labeled by our government the “Secretary of Educatuon”: “It’s like Betsy always says, ‘There’s no i in education, the way I spell it.’”
Then he had guest Chris Hayes from MSNBC — the “left, liberal news thingy,” as Colbert called the cable channel — come on to say that Trump is “not well-informed, and he doesn’t have any principles.” This, to cheers and laughter. No Trump exhaustion from this audience.
Colbert’s return was so jam-packed with Trump-related catch-up material, he barely had time to parody professional maniac and radio-host-Trump-sucks-up-to Alex Jones, making jolly fun of Jones’s lawyer for calling his InfoWars client a “performance artist” in a child-custody battle.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.