It looks as though even as I was writing about President Donald Trump’s bizarrely gratuitous swipe at Stephen Colbert during an interview with Time magazine yesterday, Colbert and his staff were busy writing as well: lots of jokes about Trump’s attack, along with a call to the President to resign. Colbert came onto the Late Show stage on Thursday night and put Trump’s quotes to Time on the screen, including these words: “You see a no-talent guy like Colbert,” says the President. “There’s nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy. And you have kids watching… By the way they were going to take him off television, then he started attacking me and he started doing better. But his show was dying. I’ve done his show… But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high — highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had.”
Once the audience had beheld this barrage of halting syntax, Colbert paused to clap his hands and cackle maliciously, like an evil baby. He was relishing the moment: “I’ve been trying for a year to get you to say my name!” he crowed. Colbert went on: “There are many things you don’t understand, Mr. President, but I didn’t think show business was one of them.” As if to a child, Colbert explained to Trump that this is what comedians do — needle people in power. As to the accusation of “filthy” language, Colbert conceded, “I do occasionally use adult language, and I do it in public, not in the privacy of an Access Hollywood bus.”
Then Colbert went in for the kill. “You’re right, making jokes about you has been good for ratings. It’s almost as if the majority of Americans didn’t want you to be President… If you want to take me down, there’s an obvious way: Resign.”
Colbert’s suggestion is one that has been floating around the edges of current analyses of Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey. By introducing the subject of resignation into the bloodstream of late-night comedy, he may be infecting his medium with a new strain of a virus that might spread. For now, rest assured that Colbert seems to be in positively glowing health in direct proportion to the more negative the President goes with him.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.
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