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Small Talk: Live From The Ed Sullivan Theater

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I think this is funny for more than one reason:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/popes-new-comedic-advisor-rabbi/

 

Pope's new comedic advisor is a rabbi.

 

Also, he dropped the T from the end of his last name, which used to be Alpert and is now Alper -- this made me think maybe he was a Colbert fan. But part of the prize he got for being chosen as the Pope's comedy advisor is a pair of tickets to Jimmy Fallon's show.

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I'm not sure where to post this, but I've been trying for weeks to figure out what the purpose is of the shiny square thing on Stephen's Desk (under his right arm here):

 

screen_shot_2015-09-08_at_8.45.54_pm.jpg

 

It seems to move around and I don't think it's just a paperweight.  I'm wondering if he uses it to maybe see what's on the monitor?  He did seem to be sneaking a peek at it the other night.

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Yes, it lets him see what we're seeing on screen.

 

I'm curious about the objects you can see over his left shoulder in some shots, but not in the one above.

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16 hours ago, Milburn Stone said:

To my mind, the single best thing he does every night is the post-monologue behind-the-desk bit. (And then sometimes the prepared bit he'll do later in the show, if I've DVR'ed the show and can zap to it.) I felt the same way about Carson, to tell the truth. The indispensable, "appointment television" parts of Carson every night were the monologue and the following behind-the-desk bit (Carnac or what-have-you). The interviews? Not so much.

I think in talk show vernacular those are called the "Writer's Segment" and I agree wholeheartedly. That was usually the best part of Dave's show as well, particularly when it was clear Dave was the writer in question.

As long as we're getting all analytical about preferences, the one thing in my mind that stands out as far as where Colbert's performance stands with those who are doing or have done that line of work is likability/relatability.  Carson always came off as something of a neighbor. Kimmel is the prankster on your six-foot and under basketball team.  Conan seems like the geeky guy working three cubes over in the office, funny but a bit off.  Fallon acts like a big ol' puppy dog eager to please.  Dave was always the smartass who had the moxie to say out loud what you were only able to dream about verbalizing.  Colbert... I just don't know how likeable/relatable he is.  Maybe a little to smart? (Should I feel dumb or completely uncool that some of his material is too meta for me?) Maybe a little too slick and polished? (Would this guy ever be caught wearing a hoodie and sweatpants?) Maybe a little too theatrical? (Do you think Johnny/Dave or the Jimmy's could carry more than a bar of a Broadway show tune?) What kind of music does he like?  With Carson it was big band stuff, the Jimmy's seem to gravitate toward rock 'n roll, Dave tastes seemed pretty eclectic, but I haven't a clue what Colbert might have on his iPod.   Really, for the life of me I can't imagine what I'd have to talk about were I to meet him in real life. I can't shake the feeling I'm on the outside looking in.  Not the way I choose to spend an hour.

Just spit ballin' here... YMMV

Edited by kib
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16 hours ago, Milburn Stone said:

To my mind, the single best thing he does every night is the post-monologue behind-the-desk bit. (And then sometimes the prepared bit he'll do later in the show, if I've DVR'ed the show and can zap to it.) I felt the same way about Carson, to tell the truth. The indispensable, "appointment television" parts of Carson every night were the monologue and the following behind-the-desk bit (Carnac or what-have-you). The interviews? Not so much.

It's interesting, because so few Talk Show hosts have actually been good at the Interviews.

  • Conan: stank at interviews for his first few years, but got much better. That said, his real strength is on-location remote bits. He arguably was (and still is) even better than Letterman at those. Desk bits for him can be really good, but really vary in quality.
  • Letterman: actually, was always really good at interviews. With some guests he just wouldn't gel and it wouldn't even lead to anything good, but with the right guests his Interviews were genius. On location bits were great for him too, as is anything in studio with the live audience--be it from behind his desk or on his feet. But in his later years he did far less of both the on location bits and even the in studio ones riffing off the audience. And the formal monologue was always a bit of a weakness (and got worse as the years went by).
  • Leno: IMO was always really bad at interviews. Barely got better as the years passed. Which is interesting because whatever you think of him as a host, he's a great guest on other people's talk shows. Suddenly, in that circumstance, he seems to have plenty of interesting things to say. His desk bits were kind of weak too IMO, but on the rare occasion when he did skits or remote bits, they were actually pretty good. His monologues weren't the worst of any talk show host, but were corny and least common denominator. Very different from the stuff I've seen from his actual stand up act, where he was very sharp and sarcastic.
  • Ferguson: in some ways was the best interviewer of any of these guys. His monologue was pretty great too. He didn't often do remote bits--other than the times he'd do an entire episode as a remote bit (like when he took the show to Scotland). Like Fallon, he did musical bits, and they were great, and I include anything with the puppets under that same basket. His desk bits were mostly limited to the reading of viewer mail with the skeleton robot. Occasionally, unlike most of these others, he'd do formal skits, like Carson did in his time (for example, Prince Charles skits). Those were usually good.
  • Fallon: A horrendous interviewer. I've stopped watching, but most people say he's no better now than when he started. If he didn't do great musical bits, there'd be nothing. He does the rare "skit", but it's usually tied into the musical stuff fairly directly.  I don't recall him doing many remote bits.
  • Corden: He's not a great interviewer. What "saves" his show is the Graham Norton style multiple interview thing. It's more than just a novelty--it offers a conversation that goes in different directions than standard talk show one on ones. Corden carries less of the load than Norton does on his show though--usually Norton steers his guests vs. on Cordon's show, where boisterous (mostly Americans) cause their own weird interactions.  Does decent remote bits though (I count all of the Carpool Karaoke stuff as that).  I've seen a few skits, but it's not a major thing. His desk bits, from when I've watched, aren't all that good.
  • Meyers: I watched a lot his first few weeks but not after, so I can't really comment. In those first few weeks I got an impression he COULD be a good interviewer, but wasn't quite reaching it. Other kinds of stuff he did was really mixed.
  • Kimmel: Weird with interviews. It really varies, from pretty good to outright terrible. Maybe that's not so different from Letterman, except I don't think Kimmel's percentages are quite as good, and his highs with interviews are never quite as high as Dave's were (who when he DID hit perfectly with a guest interview, it was just totally mesmerizing). Pretty good audience interactions, okay remote bits when I've seen him do them. He's kind of a generalist: never as good as anyone else at their best, but at least decent at everything.

As for Colbert himself? I think his interviews fall ahead of Fallon, Leno, and in some cases Corden (as I said I can't comment on Meyers). He's maybe around Kimmel's level, except maybe even more firmly stuck in the middle. What he trumps most of them in is subject matter. He may not spark the best with his guests, but he gets a wider variety of them and thus at least attempts to talk about the widest range of subject matter. I agree that his Desk bits are the best, of anyone on this list actually. His monologues are... okay. On the rare occasions when he does away from the desk skits, or on location stuff outside of the studio, those tend to be pretty good. He's also strangely good being mock-candid on recorded bits. The stuff he recorded in his back office when they were prepping the show is the best thing of that type other than Conan--who also does a lot of that mocked up behind the scenes stuff too (Letterman would too, but did so less in his later years). 

Edited by Kromm
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On 11/6/2015 at 11:20 PM, roseha said:

I'm not sure where to post this, but I've been trying for weeks to figure out what the purpose is of the shiny square thing on Stephen's Desk (under his right arm here):

 

screen_shot_2015-09-08_at_8.45.54_pm.jpg

 

It seems to move around and I don't think it's just a paperweight.  I'm wondering if he uses it to maybe see what's on the monitor?  He did seem to be sneaking a peek at it the other night.

It's a sheet of glass with a monitor underneath.

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