Unless you’ve been living under a rock — or maybe a dark cave under the Misty Mountains, where you’ve been catching fish with your bare hands and cherishing a very small, very precious piece of jewelry — you know that Stephen Colbert is the world’s pre-eminent Tolkien fan. The Late Show host has practically made a career out of being a Lord of the Rings nerd, whether he’s demolishing James Franco in a Silmarillion trivia battle, convincing Peter Jackson to let him cameo in The Hobbit movies, or cosplaying as some of his favorite LOTR characters for this very magazine.
But apparently, the Middle-earth super-geek has been hiding a controversial opinion this whole time, the way a certain mild-mannered Hobbit hid a ring of power in Bag End until his 111st birthday. You see, Colbert has a blistering hot take on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original 1937 fantasy classic The Hobbit.
Specifically, he thinks that it’s “meh.”
The shocking revelation came during Thursday’s episode of the Late Show, as guest Patton Oswalt — who himself is a well-documented nerd — discussed finishing the Harry Potter books with his 10-year-old daughter and wondering what to read next. Colbert unsurprisingly suggested the three-volume Lord of the Rings, while Oswalt replied that The Hobbit might be more age-appropriate. It’s then that Colbert dropped his hot take, a take hotter than dragon fire or the flames of Mt. Doom.
“I read The Lord of the Rings multiple times before I ever read The Hobbit,” explained Colbert, who, as a reminder, was actually in The Hobbit. “And then I read The Hobbit, and I went, okay, I kind of get what they’re referring to here. But it just does not have the high style and the language. I just don’t think it’s as good a book as The Lord of the Rings.”
A stunned Oswalt could only reply, “Your Twitter mentions are going to go into the toilet right now.” Truly, Colbert the Wise has abandoned reason for madness.
Watch the full interview above.