Tag Archives: Cbs

Colbert’s Late Show Interrupted by Hecklers

As Stephen Colbert’s new show is in its first week, the show has, so far, had a bunch of top-notch guests. Last night, for example, Joe Biden was on the show — complete with the press corps in tow… chomping at the bit as to whether he is going to run for President.

But, the show appeared, at least to the audience to have been stolen by some New York City cabbies.

I’ll turn things over to Sarah, who claims to have been seated in the audience for yesterday’s taping. She posted a litany of tweets about incidents involving Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (disclosure: who I met at the Uber DC launch party many years back.)

Since there are so many Tweets about this (what happened to blogging?) I am going to put her Tweets into a sequential, linked monologue. (Last word of tweet is link.)

Here we go:

So, so excited to see this interview. Some insane stuff went down. I’ll talk about it if they don’t show it. First thing got cut. Extremely edited. Makes sense.

Two separate times during the interview with Uber guy, some cabbies in the balcony yelled stuff and interrupted the conversation. They were criticizing Uber’s disruption of the NYC cab system, and they were very aggressive and made everyone rather uncomfortable.

I mean, I don’t blame them, their argument is valid. But I initially thought it was a bit, but the crew started looking around frantically. Instead of having the men removed, Stephen acted with complete respect and control. He listened intently to what they had to say. When the guy finished, Stephen said that he was planning on asking a similar question, and politely asked the man to be seated.

He then turned back to the interview and addressed exactly what the man had yelled about. It was very smooth.

The whole thing was cut, tho.

Then five minutes later, another man got up and yelled something else. The Uber guy started to talk back to him, but Stephen calmly touched his arm and quieted both him and the cab driver in the balcony. He said that he would ask the man’s question “in a more respectful way.” Then he again respectfully asked the man to sit down, and he asked exactly what the man had yelled about. Very, very smooth transition.

Both encounters and all references to them were cut for the air. The Uber man actually had some decent (prepared) answers to the questions, & Stephen was able to make it funny, but Biden deserved more air.

But – it was truly remarkable to see how Stephen handled the whole interview. He easily could have had the men removed. But instead, he truly listened to what they had to say and directly incorporated their concerns into the interview, completely smoothly. It was incredible to see how well Stephen handled it all. Absolute class and respect, the whole time.

And he had complete, *complete* control over the entire theatre. The audience, the band, the crew – we were all confused/a little scared, but Stephen calmed and quieted everyone. He didn’t call for security, he just dealt with the men and then continued an excellent interview. It was a fantastic thing to watch happen.

He handled it with class and earnestness & showed just how skilled he is as a performer and host.

I’m actually sort of sad none of it made the cut. They must’ve talked for at least 15 mins, & what they showed was kind of awkward & short. But I understand why they didn’t show it all.

I’m just glad I got to witness it and see in person just how phenomenal Stephen Colbert is. Sorry I just tweeted like three essays, but I wanted to put it out there. Important stuff.

Confused? So am I. Unless you were in the audience tonight (some WH poolers were, but this didn’t make the pool report, so I assume they missed it) there is no way of knowing what was said, what Colbert did, and what made it to air.

However, some reporters from Business Insider and BuzzFeed were there. I suspect they’ll have more substantive reports come morning. Until then, a few questions/thoughts:

  • Why let hecklers get away with it? In this instance, after Colbert reacted, allegedly, nicely to the first cabbie, yet the second later chimed in. Would the same thing have happened if you just kicked the first one out? Perhaps.
  • Letting hecklers go into a monologue, and listening until they finish just seems like a bad idea. I’m not a producer, but that’s bullshit. Subjecting guests to that is a dumb move.
  • Only Colbert and his writers know if it is indeed true whether Colbert was “planning on asking a similar question” to the ones the hecklers brought up. This could just be a disarming tactic, but it could become a very bad precedent. Granted, only the people who are in the audience know what was said in the room and what aired or didn’t air.
  • BUT, consider that on any given night, reporters from BI and BF, or any other outlet are in the audience… you never know who is there. If you start caving to hecklers and suggest you were about to ask their questions to calm them down (Colbert is democratizing the questions, as we saw with Jeb Bush) you only encourage people to act badly. And it’s weird if you ask the questions they asked before you, and don’t air them. Seems crazy.
  • If guests know you might make them answer questions from the audience to keep hecklers at bay (albeit reworded by the host) that might cause good potential guests to forego the show. After all, Colbert doesn’t have subpoena power to require guests to appear, there are alternatives.
  • Which is an interesting question, heckler tactics aside: Do you offer a cushier interview or do you let things run like the wild west? In television, it can go both ways.

Which way will Colbert go? Perhaps we’ll find out in the late morning.