Stephen Colbert is making an interesting statement at the dawn of his run as the host of The Late Show, because it feels like he doesn’t covet first place, or at least he might not be interested in doing what needs to be done to claim the brass ring. This after sitting on the throne as late-night ratings leader for one night before Jimmy Fallon deployed Justin Timberlake and a new History of Rap segment that became a viral video and ruled the morning-after-internet. Yielding an unsurprising and probably long-lasting return to the top.
Fallon’s Tonight Show, with its youthful party vibe and its complete understanding of how social media can be used to extend the life of a segment and the reach of a show, is in good shape to stave off a charge from all comers and should be credited for the way that it has made arguments about late night’s waning legitimacy seem illegitimate themselves.
Colbert’s show, thus far, has demonstrated that it has its strengths as well, but they aren’t the same as Fallon’s.