When saying that Sean Penn smoking on The Late Show raised some eyebrows, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not about outrage, but it seems surreal to a lot of folks and Stephen Colbert might be the top of the list alongside the folks in attendance for his show. He was prepared for Penn to come armed with his American Spirit cigarettes, pulling up an ashtray from behind the desk to help the actor out a bit. He was battling an Ambien hangover from a redeye flight, so it makes sense that Penn just said screw it.
It wasn’t a horrible interview, but the cigarettes really just made it kinda memorable. It’s an act that has a lot of stigmas connected with it in today’s world, but it used to be pretty commonplace. It also used to be commonplace to see doctors giving their approval to the brand of cigarettes that paid them the most.
None of that matters here, though Colbert does stop Penn part of the way through his chat to talk about the dangers of smoking. It lasts through the commercial break, but it feels like it was a moment Colbert had to have in there for some legal or broadcast reason. Also, it’s New York City and smoking is banned pretty much everywhere. That might play a factor.