On Monday (Jan. 23) the official announcement came through naming Stephen Colbert the official host for the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards.
When you think about it, the choice seems absolutely perfect. After all, Colbert — who took over David Letterman’s job roughly a year and a half ago — has plenty of experience. The comedian/writer/pundit/television personality has brought home a total of nine Emmys over the course of the past 13 years — first through his writing work on “The Daily Show,” and subsequently the groundbreaking “Colbert Report.”
Things have been a bit rockier as he transitions from niche cable personality (and persona) to national “Late Show” host. For the most part, that risky edge that put “The Colbert Report” on the map and made Stephen Colbert a household name has been blunted, of course. But with CBS putting Colbert in the spotlight for this highly coveted gig, we have hopes he’ll rise to the occasion and reclaim some rightfully deserved comedic glory.
But to do that, here are a few suggestions:
Don’t be afraid of taking chances
The Emmy Awards will be live on CBS and — for the most part — the network hasn’t been known for living on the edge. Yes, Letterman proved that being an outlier worked, and his edgy late night formula set the tone for every show since. Now that Colbert’s at the wheel, we implore the comedian to take chances when he’s up on that stage. The show is about handing out accolades to the talent, but in the current political climate, being safe with your comedy just gets you looked down on. (Sorry, Jimmy Fallon…)
It’s live television — roll with the punches
Whether it’s Ricky Gervais nursing a never-empty pint of beer or Fallon reacting to a broken teleprompter, live TV can be nerve-wracking. And while the Emmys have been hosted by their fair share of comedians, who have the wherewithal to handle anything that comes their way onstage, Stephen Colbert is a proven wiz at doing it live.
He did just this when “The Late Show” brought live episodes to CBS during their 2016 election coverage. His “Colbert Report” performance to the troops in 2009 — where General Odiermo shaved Stephen’s head in solidarity with our military — is just one example of how the man, who cut his improv comedy teeth at places like Chicago’s famed Second City and later on shows like “Exit 57” and “Strangers With Candy,” can roll with anything thrown at him and make it look so darn easy.
Let the old Colbert out to play
It goes without saying that, without the Bill O’Reilly-inspired persona he created for Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert could’ve easily vanished into the proverbial ether after his role on “The Daily Show” ran its course. Thankfully, it didn’t.
Between his Emmys, Grammys, Peabody and other such accolades, Colbert rose to the top as one of the most important political pundits over the past decade. And whether it was all parody, one thing is definitely for certain: The man brought many issues to the forefront of popular culture and discourse — and he did it all through comedy.
As alter-ego Colbert, Stephen introduced the word “Truthiness” into America’s vernacular, hosted the White House Correspondents dinner — delivering a brilliant, and memorable, takedown to George W. Bush as he stood right next to the man — and found a formidable power in this specific type of comedy that the world desperately continues to need.
Through pain, laughter has provided a cathartic release. We’re unsure where things will be six months from now or what the political climate may become, but with a possible John Stewart cameo — please have a John Stewart cameo! — it would only be a recipe for success if the real-life Stephen Colbert brought his own formidable opponent back out to play one more time.
The 69th Annual Emmy Awards will air Sunday, September 17 on CBS.