Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin
Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin
Screenshot: The Late Show

Thursday’s The Late Show (or, as host Stephen Colbert insists on differentiating his home version, A Late Show), saw Colbert throw to a very special musical guest. And while Colbert and his fellow housebound late-night colleagues have routinely tested out the acoustic qualities of the bathrooms of their illustrious musical performers, this time Colbert’s singing ringer came to us straight form the lush woodlands somewhere outside his infamously art-strewn and luxurious home. Yes, banjo maestro and occasional actor and comedian Steve Martin was out there, placidly calling in to regale Colbert and the world with his magnanimously earnest version of the feel-good celebrity charity anthem, “We Are The World.” So, a-one, and a-two. . .

And hold up, Martin. Perhaps with the wincing memory of the last all-celeb, all-quarantine singalong of an overplayed, perhaps overrated well-meaning togetherness anthem in mind, Colbert worked diligently and repeatedly to head off his guest before this thing went horribly, virally awry. Peppering the impatient Martin with strategically timed questions (“What’s the distance from the Earth to the moon?” “236 thousand miles—We are the wooorld. . .”), Colbert just managed to divert his guest mid-croon, sparing Martin the hit of self-impressed unintentional online infamy. Of course, faux self-impressed, self-serving do-goodery is a part of Steve Martin’s comic métier, but Colbert just wasn’t having it, even as the unctuously sincere Martin seized upon the most tenuous segues and plowed ahead with his solemn, acoustic-strumming proclamation that “We are all one.” And, a-one. . .

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No, again, as Colbert, claiming that “Stop Steve Martin From Singing ‘We Are The World’ is a new recurring A Late Show segment (which, yes, please), did his level best to prevent this train wreck from piling up on his wifi connection. After all, watching these two goofs work some expert comic timing into their shared bit is a whole lot more restorative than any spectacle of obscenely wealthy famous people deigning to favor us poor folk with an unironic anti-materialism anthem from the splendor of their own cushy anti-pandemic suites. Plus, as it turns out, Martin didn’t bother to learn any lyrics beyond the first half of the song’s chorus, because, why would he? He’s Steve Martin.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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