Thursday, November 03, 2005

How "The Colbert Report" can sustain itself

The Colbert Report has been renewed for a full year, but I'm not sure if that's good news. In its current form, it can't sustain itself. It's brilliant at times, but it's difficult to maintain Colbert's overblown parody persona. The interviews are awkward, and the banter between full-fledged bits is uneven. (Best review I've seen along these lines is in Slate, though Wikipedia is remarkably current.)

Ideally, they'd retool. Ditch the interview unless they happen to find a guest who can play along; the best so far, believe it or not, was astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson. Extend the parody by letting him argue with other fake pundits.

Given the quick renewal, that retooling may not happen anytime soon. Or it could happen gradually, like the phasing-out of the mean-spirited correspondent segments that are less prominent in Jon Stewart's Daily Show than they were in the Craig Kilborn era. (Stewart for Kilborn -- that has to be the best cast upgrade since Jill Hennessy replaced Richard Brooks on Law & Order.)

But that retooling will need to happen sometime, and I've figured out how, courtesy of today's news. It seems that CNN has pushed Aaron Brown out the door in favor of a puppy dog. Oh, wait, that's Anderson Cooper.

So when Colbert decides to give the show a makeover, don't do it quietly. Make it very public. Issue a pompous press release announcing that Colbert has been replaced by his twin brother. Have the original Colbert storm off the set. Have the twin play more of an Anderson Cooper mold. Then send him to Aruba to search for that missing girl for three months.

(Unrelated Comedy Central note: A documentary with Sarah Silverman, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford and Zach Galifianakis? OK, you've got me, even if I think Patton Oswalt is grating at times. Yes, I want to see that.)

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