In a profile on the “Late Show” host, he talked about the current state of American politics, and his time since taking over from David Letterman in late night.
The biggest topic of conversation, of course, was President Donald Trump.
“Trump’s election is a stone thrown into the pond that just will never stop rippling,” Colbert said. “I think it’s going to be generations before we recover from whatever it is he’s doing.”
“I don’t know how we recover from choosing that man to be the leader of this country,” he added. “I don’t know how we recover our ethical or moral standing in the world, because this is an abdication of an American moral philosophy. We’ve completely abandoned it.”
The election also affected Colbert’s show. “The night Trump was elected, that live show was the hardest show I ever did,” he explained. “Just the reality of what we were experiencing in real time with the audience, and sharing with them… that was the hardest thing I ever did.”
The 53-year-old also talked about having to keep his own identity in mind on his show.
“I’m a white, straight, Christian—add to that, Catholic, the Microsoft of Christianity—American male. In a way that makes no sense at all, that’s kind of like ‘American neutral,'” Colbert said. “And up until now my whole career has been kind of questioning, ‘Why is that American neutral? Why is that a hegemonic position?’ So by embracing it very strongly, what I have been doing my whole career is questioning my identity by playing it—by performing my identity.”
There’s also the difficulty of remaining optimistic in the current political climate. “Nobody wants to hear the word ‘love’. That’s a four-letter word. That’s a comedy-killer,” Colbert said, “because while it’s a happy idea, love is very serious. It’s not the sort of thing you should say out loud. I’m even hesitant to say it out loud in this interview.”
“I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. Even the president! When he started, I said, “Give him a chance but not an inch.”