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The RNC Has Inspired Stephen Colbert to Get Back In Character … As Stephen Colbert

Aloha, Stephen Colbert ... and aloha, Stephen Colbert!

Stephen Colbert hung up his Captain America shield after the season finale of The Colbert Report, then moved on to playing the role of himself on The Late Show. Although the patriotic egotist who hosted the Report shares his name, the “real” Colbert on The Late Show is undoubtedly a different man (happier, more relaxed, less pompous, etc). Still, sometimes the situation calls for a bit of pomposity, and the Republican National Convention has drawn the old Colbert back out of retirement.

We already heard that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would be reuniting to cover the RNC together, but now it’s been made clear that we’ll be getting the “old” version of Colbert. (We also already got to see Colbert playing one of his other notable goofball characters at the RNC yesterday, in case you missed it!)

The night before last, new-Colbert went to a cabin in the woods to retrieve both Jon Stewart and old-Colbert. So, first things first, here’s that clip:

Then, last night, The Late Show played host to old-Colbert’s official return, including the reprisal of his patented Colbert Report segment, “The Word.” I won’t spoil any of the jokes for you; it’s up at the top of this post, and it’s depressing/delightful.

It’s bittersweet to see Colbert back in full form again, playing a flippant TV show egotist who cares more about himself than politics. I mean, it’s obvious why that would be bittersweet to watch nowadays, right? It’s also strange to imagine what it would’ve been like to have this version of him throughout the electoral cycle, as opposed to the jollier CBS host that we have now. I can understand why he wanted to hang up the hat on this character, especially after having played him for so many years, but … I do miss having him around, even though he doesn’t seem to obey Poe’s Law anymore.

To end on a brighter note, here’s Colbert’s super-patriotic dance routine, which opened up the show last night:

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t actually a “brighter note,” given the absurdity of the actual events of the RNC and the views espoused there, none of which are particularly funny. It’s pretty hard to make light of this, even given Stephen Colbert’s expertise.

I’m of two minds when it comes to whether or not comedy actually helps in trying times. Sometimes it helps raise much-needed awareness (with the aid of a spoonful of comedic sugar), but sometimes it just seems jaded and tone-deaf. Usually, Colbert knows how to walk that line, although it’s definitely a tricky line to walk, and he doesn’t always nail it. He’s a little out of practice, but I think he can still dish it out. It’ll be interesting to see his coverage this week!

(via Deadline)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (