Stephen Colbert does a lot of heavy lifting these days, comedically speaking, trying (and more often than not, succeeding) in making laughs out of—just to pick one example—the President of the United States slavishly carrying out the whims of foreign dictators to whom he owes untold amounts of money. Luckily for a guy who’s force to pay more attention to Donald Trump’s Twitter feed than is recommended by any reputable mental health professional, he’s also got a lot of good and equally hilarious friends, two of whom took turns turning the tables on Thursday’s Late Show to ask Colbert some softball late-night talk show questions for a change.
John Oliver came out first, toting a nicely chilled bottle of white wine for what he termed his “first date” with Colbert, since, as both guys stressed, they never really overlapped as correspondents on The Daily Show. Calling himself “the destitute man’s Stephen Colbert,” Oliver (who, in fact, routinely beats out Colbert each year at the Emmys these days) ran through a series of first-date questions suggested by the internet, including Colbert’s first-ever concert (Chuck Mangione, with his mom), the last song he sang out loud, and, um, if he’s ever harbored a secret suspicion of how he’s going to die. (We have some questions, unnamed dating advice website.) But Colbert, getting to relax and open up in the guest chair, saved his best answer for last, wowing Oliver and his audience with his touchingly eloquent, off-the-cuff response to Oliver asking him about the most important friendship in his life. “My wife, without a doubt,” answered Colbert immediately, following that up with, “The most harrowing idea would be that I spend any part of my life without her. Because that would be a level of loneliness and irreplaceable, irredeemable emotional desolation that I could not possibly contemplate. How I will actually die is, she will die first and I will not last a year.” Damn.
Less emotional but equally charming was Colbert’s turn on the couch when lifelong friend and former Second City and Strangers With Candy co-star Amy Sedaris got to ask the questions. Reminiscing about their time onstage with third comedy musketeer Paul Dinello (also on hand, since he’s a writer-producer on The Late Show these days), Colbert recalled how Sedaris and Dinello were the ones who broke down his initial show biz rigidity, usually by unexpectedly appearing in a scene sporting novelty teeth, or by dubbing Colbert’s improv character “Dr. Lighthouse” if he had a huge, red pimple on his nose. Playing some word association games, Sedaris also got Colbert to relate the time when, on a Second City van trip to Joshua Tree, Sedaris did something so exquisitely, mischievously mean to Colbert that he held her down in the desert and rubbed sand into her face, and elsewhere. “That might have been when I knew that I just loved you,” beamed Colbert, rosy with the memory of one of his best friends in the world provoking him to literally gritty violence.