The Stephen Colbert that fans of satire came to know and love over the nine years of The Colbert Report was largely missing from the 2016 election season. Colbert’s Late Show has to appeal to a much broader audience, and as a result, often seems a little watered down, politically. But Stephen still boasts some of the best writers in the game, and when he’s on, he’s on fire. Such was the case when he broadcasted a live show after each night of the Republican National Convention, and reminded us just how witty and biting and funny he can be. I could have filled this top 10 list with clips from that week, but I threw a few others in their, too.
The Word: Trumpiness
“Hello, Nation. Did you miss me? — I know I did.” Thus returned America’s greatest self-absorbed blowhard TV personality. And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. During the Republican National Convention, Stephen brought back his iconic Colbert Report persona to bring forth a new Word: Trumpiness. It’s like “Truthiness,” Colbert’s word for Bush-era political thoughts, except that “Truthiness comes from the gut; Trumpiness comes from much further down the gastrointestinal tract.” This was Colbert as his fans always knew him. The bit was short-lived, but immensely satisfying.
Only Jon Stewart Can Make Sense of the Trump Candidacy
In order to better understand how Trump rose to power, Stephen sought the advice of his former partner in crime, Jon Stewart, who only served to reintroduce Colbert’s former persona. There wasn’t much to this interaction between Colbert and Stewart other than fanservice and a few spit-takes, but it was fun to see the two interact again after Stewart’s hiatus from the small screen.
Werd: The Lesser of Two Evils
After bringing back his Colbert Report character for the Republican National Convention live shows, Colbert had to retire the character to please Comedy Central’s lawyers. So, he introduced a new version of Stephen Colbert—his twin cousin, Stephen Colbert—then introduced a new version of his popular segment, The Word, which had also been nixed by corporate lawyers.
Stephen Moderates An All-Trump Debate
Just before the Iowa caucuses in January, Colbert used edited debate footage to put Trump against Trump in a political debate in which Donald Trump’s views differed completely from those of Donald Trump. “Gentlemen, you know the rules. You say the first thing that comes to your mind, and no matter what it is, your poll numbers go up.”
Here Comes Mitt To Save The Day
As much as Stephen disagreed with Donald Trump, he supported the fact that the people voted for him and chose him as their candidate despite GOP efforts to undermine him. So, when Republicans trotted out Mitt Romney to speak out against Trump, Colbert blasted their efforts to stop their frontrunner. “This game of ganging up against the popular guy who’s actually winning, that’s not democracy.”
The 2016 Race Learns What’s Below Rock Bottom
Donald Trump talked about the size of his penis during a presidential debate. Yes, that happened. And Colbert couldn’t let him get away with it. After making a string of penis jokes, Colbert said, “I can’t believe that these are absolutely legitimate jokes to be making about a presidential debate right now. For those of you who have been following American democracy for the last 240 years, we have officially hit a new low in political discourse.”
Side Effects Of Being Presidential Include Drowsiness, Sexism
In late April, as Trump had all but won the Republican nomination, Colbert reacted to primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland and Connecticut, or, “what some are calling Super Tuesday 4, and what we’ll eventually call ‘Day One, Year Zero of the before Trump times.'” In his victory speech, Trump attacked Clinton for playing the “woman card.” So, Colbert revealed Trump’s secret to success: The Man Card. “All of us guys get one of these. They are great. They get you paid more, you can explain things to women about women and, as a white man, mine’s also a get out of jail free card.”
One Diagram Explains Every Conspiracy Against Donald Trump
Donald Trump spent most of the run up to the election decrying the political process and accusing Democrats of rigging the election and championing voter fraud. In order to better understand Trump’s claims, Stephen had to visualize them. And the results were telling.
Hungry For Power Games: Republican National Convention Edition
Colbert’s best running gag throughout the election season was his Hungry for Power Games segment. In an election so filled with Republican candidates that there had to be a second debate for overflow contenders, the analogy to a group of tributes fighting to the death until one remains was perfect. And Colbert as a Caesar Flickerman knockoff fit right into his niche for playing bombastic characters. Every Power Games segment was solid, but this one, in which Colbert actually mounted the RNC stage and declared, “I know I’m not supposed to be up here, but let’s be honest, neither is Donald Trump,” was icing on the cake.
The RNC Is Like Christmas In July
Colbert opened his week of RNC coverage with a marvelous song-and-dance number. “This week, you and me, we will win this history / As the RNC crowns their orange manatee! / We’ll see wacky hats, crazy ties, worn by thousands of white guys / An entire airplane hangar filled with Donald Trump’s ex-wives. / We’ll see Newt, Ron, and Rand, maybe members of the Klan / But no Muslims or Latinos, cause I think they’ve all been banned!”
Bonus: Jon Stewart Takes Over Colbert’s Late Show Desk
This is not technically a Colbert moment, but this list would not be complete without Jon Stewart’s contribution to the Late Show RNC coverage. On the final day of Colbert’s live commentary on the Republican National Convention, the show was gifted with news that Roger Ailes resigned as chairman of Fox News after being accused of sexual harassment. So, Colbert had to bring on the man who spent almost two decades on The Daily Show fighting the conservative news network to give his thoughts on the present state of Fox News and the GOP.