CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” will broadcast live following President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, and in doing so, becomes the latest of TV’s late-night programs to signal it plans to make hay off of the annual – and much scrutinized – political event.
Guests on the broadcast will include Tommy Vietor, Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett, the hosts of the podcast “Pod Save America,” as well as and Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson of 2 Dope Queens. Chris Stapleton will be the night’s musical guest. “Late Show” has not broadcast live since President Trump addressed a joint session of Congress nearly a year ago on February 28, 2017.
Both “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” will air live episodes after Trump’s speech as well, marking the first time Klepper’s program has tested the format.
TV’s late-night programs appear ready to revive a technique that worked for many of them during the 2016 election. The staff of “Daily Show” did live broadcasts on the final nights of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, after the presidential and vice presidential debates and on Election Night in 2016 – six in all. NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” did a live broadcast after the Republican National Convention and CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” used live broadcasts to attention-getting effect during the campaign. Executives at the show and the network credit the live programs with helping the program find its voice in a roiling political era. Bill Maher also got in on the act, doing extra episodes of “Real Time” on HBO
Colbert believes some of his live work during the election provided an important foundation for his tenure on “Late Show,” which he took over in 2015 from David Letterman. On Election Night 2016, Colbert hosted a live special on Showtime, and had to work furiously to engage a live New York audience interested that was horrified by the results of the race. At the end of the night, after juggling outraged guests and a moaning audience, he chose to deliver an unrehearsed monologue about the poisonous attitudes that America expressed during the presidential race. The moment connected.
“The last 10 minutes of that election show were honest. They were honest, and that was a turning point for us,” Colbert told Variety last year. “After that, we knew I could never do this show without at least attempting to keep my emotional skegs in the water.” Each monologue he does now, he said , represents “an attempt to be honest with the audience so we can have an intimate relationship.”