During his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night, Donald Glover gave a pretty reasonable though thoroughly awkward explanation of the ways in which being a famous performer requires turning his code-switching skills up to 11 (especially as a rapper, which requires an unrealistic level of self caricature to distance his “day job” from his regular life). When affable host Colbert asked him to elaborate by showing the difference between his real face and his “rapper face,” Glover was happy to oblige.
First, he showed his “Donald Glover” face, then on prompting, switched to his “Childish Gambino” face to raucous laughter from the studio audience. As Colbert remarked, “It’s subtle, but it’s there,” Glover implored the audience watching at home to studio the nuance between the two.
Of course, the joke is that his face is his face and that people running up in Whole Foods while he’s buying ice cream expecting him to be the character that typically gets portrayed in music videos is off-putting and surreal for Glover. That’s one of the influences behind the at times bizarre humor of his hit show Atlanta, which makes its season two return tonight, and retiring the Childish Gambino persona.
Glover also got a chance to meet Girl Scout Charity Joy, who went viral when she reworked his hit “Redbone” in a video to sell cookies, changing some of the lyrics to reference Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and Trefoils (my personal favorite). She offered him a chance to purchase some of her wares, and he took the opportunity to purchase her entire goal in one sitting. It’s a cute moment from the normally reserved Glover — and it just might make you crave some cookies of your own.