You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stephen Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Interview With Jeb Bush More Stump Speech Than Satire

Appearing on the debut episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Jeb Bush took one rule perhaps too much to heart when it comes to interacting with comedians: When in doubt, play it straight.

His interview on Colbert’s new show wasn’t too awkward, nor was it particularly memorable, the latter of which is the reason candidates go on late night shows in the first place.

When Colbert asked him about the exclamation point at the end of his campaign’s Jeb! logo, Bush seemed to take the question a bit too seriously. He defended it, telling Colbert the shorthand had been around since 1994 and that the extra punctuation “connotes excitement.” Hopefully, he was deadpanning.

Part of the problem was that the segment was pretty short — just 7 minutes. And the other is that the host himself seemed to be finding his way in playing himself, not the character from “The Colbert Report.”

“I used to play a narcissistic, conservative pundit. Now, I’m just a narcissist,” he quipped.

Colbert started the interview by asking the candidate why he was running, the kind of softball question that allowed Bush to go into campaign themes of fixing Washington (a “basket case,” Bush said) and out-of-control federal spending. Bush even got a chance to repeat his line that he was known in Florida as “Veto Corleone,” for the number of spending bills he killed.

Colbert’s most provocative question had to do with how he would differ from his brother, an opening for all sorts of anecdotes. But again, Bush stuck to his own themes, saying that Dubya perhaps let the GOP controlled Congress get too out of control on spending.

Bush’s supporters played up the appearance as a way to break through a media filter obsessed with Donald Trump. Right to Rise, the SuperPAC that raised a staggering $114 in the first half of the year to support his candidacy, tweeted out a “learn more about Jeb” infographic tied to the Colbert guest spot.

Colbert’s most memorable political segment instead was a mashup of Trump, an attempt to skewer the media’s ratings-obsessed fixation with The Donald by focusing on the front runner’s moments of jibberish. “I will cover all the presidential candidates who are Donald Trump,” he said.

Given the expected size of the audience, the Bush campaign may have gotten what it needed out of the segment, a chance to get its message out there, even if the candidate didn’t stray from his stump speech persona.

Instead, it was Colbert who ended up revealing more of who he really is. At one point he said to the former Florida governor, “There is a non zero chance I would vote for you.”

Update: CBS released footage that was cut from the Bush interview, where the candidate gamely participates in a debate prep where he gives Trumpian answers. It’s akin to the stunt that he did on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in June, when Bush slow-jammed the news in a suggestive way.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Snoop Dogg Weed

    In the Cannabis Business, Not All Star Strains Are Created Equal

    With the cannabis green rush in full swing, many celebrities are jumping into the fray with their own brands, including such well-known stoners as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong. But as it turns out, not all star strains are created equal, so we assembled a trio of crack experts to put the product [...]

  • Richard Branson Jason Felts

    Kaaboo Festival Acquired by Virgin Fest Owner Jason Felts

    Kaaboo, which says it has “shifted the music festival paradigm by offering a highly amenitized festival experience for adults,” is now under new ownership. Virgin Fest founder and CEO Jason Felts (pictured above with Virgin founder Richard Branson) has fully acquired all of the festival brand assets through an affiliate of Virgin Fest, the music [...]

  • Live Nation Chief Michael Rapino Talks

    Live Nation-Ticketmaster Chief Michael Rapino Talks Dept. of Justice Inquiries

    Back in August, Senators Richard Blumenthal of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made the most recent of several requests for an Department of Justice antitrust investigation into competition in the ticketing industry, and it soon became clear that the target of the probe was Live Nation and its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, which [...]

  • Lowell Smokes Cafe Marijuana

    With Cannabis Lounges, On-Site Consumption, Marijuana-Infused Meals Go Legit

    Can this century’s Roaring ’20s repeat history but with pre-rolled joints instead of whiskey flasks and soccer moms as the new flappers? This month, West Hollywood will see the opening of the nation’s first at least quasi-legal cannabis consumption lounge, officially dubbed Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café, located at 1211 N. La Brea between Fountain [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content