As part of Stephen Colbert's efforts to keep his name in sight while waiting for his late night talk show to start, the host has been releasing some fun, short videos. The most recent though transcends them all and is just a brilliant idea -- and wonderful for another reason, too.
The idea is that Colbert guest-hosted on a real-life local cable-access show in Monroe, Michigan, Only in Monroe. When I first read about this, I figured it was another of his five-minute videos, where he opened the show or something like that. But no, the show is 41 minutes...and he hosted the entire thing!
On the surface, what's wonderful about this is how clever the idea is to bring attention to his name. But I think is even far better is that he shows what a great job he'll do as host when his late-night now begins.
To be clear, we still don't know how the show will be presented, so that will affect things. (Though there's a small range on the various directions it can take.) Mainly though, I think this answers any questions about how Colbert will do as himself, not his character, handling interviews. Not that I've had any doubt -- when Al Franken had his talk show on Air America Radio, I recall listening one day when he had Colbert on as his sole guest for an hour, and the two were brilliant: smart, funny, insightful talking about a wide swath of topics, but all were serious, and most were about politics.
And here we have Colbert interviewing absolutely "ordinary" guests, in that that weren't national celebrities or hawking their latest movie, but local guests -- and he made that fun and interesting. He also had a very funny segment about a local "flame war" about Yelp comments for a local restaurant. And the last 15 minutes or so are an odd interview with a very disinterested local Michigan musician. It's strange, and even a little awkward at times -- until a lightbulb went off above my head, and my brain-freeze ended. That's when I realized the musician, a guy named Marshall Mathers, was, in fact, the rapper Eminem. Both he and Colbert are great in pulling off the entire segment. Not to mention the wrap-up with local announcements.
I don't suspect most people will watch the whole thing, though it's worth it. But even a few minutes and then skimming will make clear how really terrific Stephen Colbert is at this sort of thing, and what a wonderful host he'll be.