“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” had been scheduled to make a surprise trip to New Zealand this week — but those plans have been put on hold in light of last Friday’s terrorist attack that left 50 people dead.
On Monday’s show, Colbert revealed the now-shelved trip, which had been kept under wraps but was scheduled to take place for a week starting this Wednesday.
A male Australian white supremacist has been charged with killing 50 people and injuring 50 more during Friday prayers at the Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. On Monday’s show, Colbert noted that now was obviously not the time to visit and distract from the gravity of the situation.
“I just love that country,” he said. “If you’ve never been, go. The people there are unbelievably kind and welcoming. Obviously we’re not going to go down now but we hope to go down in the future and again, we want to say to everyone down there how sad and heartbroken we are for what that country is going through. For one of the hallmarks of New Zealand and one of the things I have always thought of, is it’s this wonderful, isolated country so far away from the problems we take for granted here north of the equator.
“And now this very particular brand of evil has infected that country like a ghost, something you wouldn’t imagine,” he added. “Truly, an evil creature has arrived on that island. I pray with all my heart that they take the action down there and have the courage to take action that we seem to lack up here in the United States. Good luck to them and blessings and peace to the Muslim community there and everywhere in the world.”
Colbert was planning to visit the country on the invitation of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who guested on “Late Show” in September. Ardern received raves for her appearance, on which she even jokingly offered Colbert — a J.R.R. Tolkien and “Lord of the Rings” aficionado — “Hobbiton citizenship.”
“I have it in writing, but actually they’re going to have the official calligrapher of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘The Hobbit’ and Hobbiton write up your official invitation,” she told the host. “So come to New Zealand, we’ll make the ceremony official.”
That was the plan, and Colbert — with a small crew in tow — was planning on arriving unannounced, much like he did in 2017 when he surprisingly showed up in Russia to tape segments.
“She was a lovely guest, we had such a good time talking to her and when she was here,” Colbert said of Ardern.
Colbert may still take “Late Show” to New Zealand at some point, but there are no plans in the works at the moment.
Colbert normally tapes his Friday episode a day early, which meant Monday’s “Late Show” was the host’s first opportunity to comment on the tragedy.
“The world is still reeling from Friday’s terror attack in New Zealand,” Colbert said while opening the show. “All of our hearts go out to those at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques and to the great people of New Zealand. I have been down there and it is the most beautiful country I have ever seen and the Kiwis are the kindest people I’ve ever met.”
Ardern, meanwhile, has been receiving praise for her handling of the shooting and her actions in uniting New Zealand in the aftermath. “What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence,” she said on Friday. “It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.”
[Photo: Ardern and Colbert on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in September 2018.]