Stand Up, Stephen Colbert

A little stand-up never hurt anybody.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered on September 8th and has yet to close the show with a stand-up comedian. Stephen’s predecessor, David Letterman, cared very little about stand-up, and only a scandal forced them to do an about-face. However, the longer Colbert goes without a stand-up comedian, the more curious the choice.

This is probably a matter of taste. Colbert has eschewed the traditional opening monologue, opting instead to make a few funny comments about the night’s guests and then leading into the opening credits with his only joke. The show has even tried some interesting closing acts, with a symphony, a choir, and ballet. The show’s producers seem to be attempting to answer the question, “What is a late night show in 2015?”

CBS’s The Late Show isn’t NBC’s Tonight Show, which is famous for introducing relative unknown comedians to millions of viewers, a tradition still embraced by Jimmy Fallon. But no matter what year or what channel, the majority of late night viewers still expect the time-proven formula, and that includes occasionally closing the show with a stand-up act. I remember my dad quoting comedians he saw on Carson, always making a point to tell me how much Johnny liked them. It made Johnny Carson seem powerful and gracious — the king bestowing gifts upon his kingdom. Johnny Carson famously would even call stand-up comedians he liked to sit with him on the couch.

So I hope this has just been a logistics issue and Colbert does book a stand-up, and I’m not talking about Louis CK or Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld. Let those guys sit down, and let an unknown stand-up comedian earn his or her way to the couch.

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