The Super Bowl 50 promises to be a big night for “The Late Show”; host, Stephen Colbert, who appears in the cover story of Adweek’s Super Bowl issue.
While CBS intends to draw in at least 110 million viewers to its Super Bowl broadcast, the network also anticipates a record-breaking audience for its coveted post-show slot. February 7 will mark the biggest spotlight ever for Colbert’s late night broadcast which began in September and the late night host hopes to bump out his competition, particularly “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”;, which remains comfortably in the first spot.
“It’s going to be the greatest late-night, post-Super Bowl show ever,”; said Colbert of the episode which airs on Global, which will feature appearances by Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Margot Robbie, Key & Peele, and at least one surprise guest. “The only, but also the greatest.”;
Colbert told Adweek of his post-Super Bowl plan: “Everything’s about Super Bowl. We’ll do our live analysis, and we’ll have our live analysis of the most important thing: who won the commercials. And we’ll have our own Super Bowl commercial. We’ll be watching the game and writing the show as we go. We practiced doing the Patriots-Broncos because that’s something we’ve never done before. We’ve written jokes live about an election, but how do you write jokes about a Super Bowl? We’ve got to turn the jokes around in 20 minutes.”;
When it comes to audience size, the late show host noted: “Doing a show for 3 million people or doing the show for 25 million people, we can’t feel the difference—it’s doing it live that’s the difference. We did one just for schnicks [last month] because no one had ever done The Late Show live. The energy is fantastic. If I didn’t have to stay up until 11:35 to do it, I would do it every day. Now we’re doing the show absolutely to the second, live to tape because we love that energy so much and don’t want to lose it.”;
While Colbert feels confident about doing his show live, he recalled the huge switch from his early shows last September where tapings ran long and he had to quickly edit the shows down: “There wasn’t really much time for reflection until Thanksgiving when we had our first dark week. That was our chance to go, OK, what the hell just happened? We spent about an hour and a half every day for the first three days watching game tapes. We took notes and every department head was allowed in, and that’s when the show took a turn for me. I went, oh yeah, we know how to do the show. Now, do we know how to change it? Because the imperative of [taping] every day and having no Fridays [off] makes it very hard to make the changes.”;
He continued, “Those next two weeks after Thanksgiving were a totally different approach to the guests. We changed the way we shot it. We changed the rhythm of the performance. We pulled the graphics out because I can’t improvise with graphics—I can’t play with my script if there’s an OTS [over-the-shoulder graphic] here. It’s improvising with a robot; it won’t let me change the subject. I understand why you have an art card now. It seems old-fashioned—Carson held up an art card—but I can put it down or hold it up if I want. You’re in control.”;
The one thing that distinguishes Colbert’s show from his competitors is his use of different guests. He noted: “Well, I would like to return to that. I consumed a lot of that when I was younger: Johnny, Steve Allen’s second show, Jack Paar, [Dick] Cavett. I like talking to actors, but I also like talking to [civil rights activist] DeRay Mckesson because that conversation was a gift to me. If I didn’t have a late-night show, I’m not sure I’m sitting down with DeRay Mckesson to talk about Black Lives Matter or white privilege. And I’m allowed to make discoveries in this context that I could never before. So yeah, we want to do different interviews because I believe that’s what the show provides you, not because this format resists it.”;