Stephen Colbert Retires ‘Stephen Colbert.’ Please Welcome ‘Stephen Colbert.’
To hear Stephen Colbert tell it, his famous “Stephen Colbert” character is dead and never coming back. Now please give a warm welcome to his new TV persona, “Stephen Colbert.”Mr. Colbert, the comedian and host of “The Late Show” on CBS, made the head-spinning announcement early Thursday morning during a live broadcast of the program that followed the third night of the Democratic National Convention.
Now let’s try to unpack what he meant.
For more than a decade, during the 10-season run of his Comedy Central program “The Colbert Report” and on “The Daily Show,” Mr. Colbert had played the role of a character called Stephen Colbert, a fatuous, self-obsessed conservative political commentator.
Last year, when Mr. Colbert became the new host of “The Late Show” (succeeding David Letterman), he dropped the facade and has been hosting this program as himself, an all-around entertainer who still enjoys a good political wisecrack.
But in a live “Late Show” broadcast after the Republican National Convention last week, Mr. Colbert revived this character, playing him in a comedy sketch with Jon Stewart and in a desk-side comedy monologue called “The Word,” also taken from “The Colbert Report.”
On Thursday, Mr. Colbert — the real one — explained that these segments did not play so well with certain “corporate lawyers” that he declined to specify.
“Because — and this is true — immediately after that show, CBS’s top lawyer was contacted by the top lawyer from another company to say that the character Stephen Colbert is their intellectual property,” he said.
Mr. Colbert added that this was “surprising, ’cause I never considered that guy much of an intellectual.”
He went on to say that, “with a heavy heart,” the Stephen Colbert character who hosted “The Colbert Report” will “never be seen again.”
After jeers and shouts of “No!” from his audience, Mr. Colbert said with some sarcasm that his hands were tied. “I cannot reasonably argue I own my face or name,” he said.
Then Mr. Colbert went on to introduce his new Stephen Colbert alter ego, described as the “identical twin cousin” of the person he will never play again. He also performed a comedy bit that was nearly identical to “The Word,” but was instead titled “Werd.”
O the joys of IP law!
Somehow I don’t think he’ll get away with “The Werd” segment.