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Stephen Colbert says he’d trade his good ratings for “a better president”

(Photo: Getty Images, Frederick M. Brown)

Stephen Colbert’s Late Show has been getting better ratings than Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show for 10 weeks now, and it’s clear that the boost is almost entirely because of the way Colbert is willing to get political and call out Donald Trump’s bullshit. In fact, Colbert’s winning streak has been so prolonged that Fallon—the man who once bowed down in front of Trump and kissed his ring on national television—is supposedly being pressured to follow his lead and get more political. Colbert knows that his lead is coming at a cost, though, and in a new Hollywood Reporter profile, he says he’d “trade good ratings for a better president.”

That line came in response to a question about whether or not he owes Trump “a thank-you note,” and Colbert explained that if it wasn’t Trump’s election that kicked his show into gear, it would’ve been something else. He says his staff was “waiting for something that everybody cared about” that they could tap into, and it just so happens that they found it in a pathetic, shameful excuse for a president. That’s not to say that Colbert is specifically framing his Late Show around Trump, though, because he says it’s just a matter of being “ready to talk about what just happened, whenever it happens.”


Colbert also humbly recognizes that his ratings streak could end at any moment, saying that he bought pizza for his staff the first time it happened and has continued buying pizza every week since, but they’ve always “got another week of shows to do.” This week they’re getting pizza, he says, “But remember: Maybe next week, no pizza.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Colbert talks about how he channels his anger about current events into comedy, how New Yorkers feel about Trump, and the Christmas gift he sent to David Letterman (it was the dot he’d stand on while doing his monologue).

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