Stephen Colbert has never been shy about going the extra mile for comedy, and this time he went more than just a mile.
On Thursday, the “Late Show” host tweeted a response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that he has no tapes of conversations with former FBI Director James Comey in which Colbert is strolling through the streets of Russia. “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I’m in Russia,” Colbert wrote. “If the ‘tapes’ exist, I’ll bring you back a copy!” It is unknown exactly when Colbert will air footage from the trip, with a spokesperson for CBS confirming only that Colbert is in Russia on assignment for a future broadcast.
Colbert’s viewership numbers have surged ever since the election of Donald Trump, with Colbert’s pointedly political comedy resonating strongly with viewers in Trump’s America. Colbert’s ratings during the 2016-2017 season overtook the previously unstoppable “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in total viewers, marking CBS’ first late-night win since the 1994-1995 season, excluding 2009-2010 when NBC replaced Conan O’Brien with Jay Leno midway through the season. “The Late Show” was also the only late-night program to post year-to-year growth in total viewers, up 11% from 2.89 million. Some have also pointed to the now infamous moment in September on “The Tonight Show” when Fallon ruffled then-candidate Trump’s hair as the moment viewers began to change the channel. Fallon received criticism for being playful with Trump and opting to ask softball questions rather than press him on various controversial statements he had made on the campaign trail.
Colbert is the latest media personality to visit Russia. Megyn Kelly launched her new NBC News show with an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shortly thereafter, Showtime debuted Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews,” in which the Oscar-winning filmmaker interviewed the Russian leader more than a dozen times over the course of two years, most recently in February following the U.S. presidential elections.