The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 should have proven deadly to late-night television, a genre heavily dependent on the connection between the comedian host and a live audience. With New York filming restrictions in place, Stephen Colbert decided to move production of his CBS Late Show to his home outside of Charleston, South Carolina. What resulted was a temporary but remarkably successful transformation of the late-night television model by a host inviting us into his home, rather than his typical comforting presence in our living rooms and bedrooms. But the success of The Late Show’s transformation was the product of more than just these spatial changes. Amidst suffering in a global pandemic, a public fed up with police violence against African Americans, and a morally contemptuous president fighting for his political life, Colbert’s genuine and deeply felt ethical nature provided a nightly salve the nation desperately needed in such ferment. Colbert’s righteous indignation at politicians who put themselves above the public good may have turned off certain audiences, but for others, his humanity, kindness, and gentle spirit offered the kind of guiding national voice of old, one that reminded us that despite our very real and immediate challenges, we would persevere and endure as a nation. For combining comedy with genuine goodness at one of our darkest hours, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert wins a Peabody.