“This is my last show that isn’t my last show,” Stephen Colbert said Wednesday night. But most of the time, you’d never have known it.
Much of the show followed Colbert as he sold off the show’s nine years’ worth of silly props (remember the board game Afghanyland?) to random folks off the street, but that was it for the nostalgia. Colbert’s love for his topical, guest-driven format is an enduring one. Still, he hinted at a Festivus-style airing of the grievances for the finale.
▪ Ghost of musical guests past
Michael Stipe did a good Elf on the Shelf imitation, piping up from a ledge with “Can someone dust me?” until Colbert screamed at him, “Stipe! That’s you in the corner, me in the spotlight! Read your contract!”
▪ Making Cuba more Libre
Colbert reacted righteously to the demise of the Cuban embargo, just when we were this close to taking down Fidel Castro with a fatal dose of time.
“The minute my show ends, I am on a plane to Havana to investigate this travesty,” he said. The ever-altruistic host promised to scour every beach and rum distillery for answers. He’ll smoke as many cigars and buy as many 57 Chevys as it takes. For America.
▪ Why we can’t stop talking about Iraq
Phil Klay, a National Book Award winner for his short story collection titled “Redeployment,” is a soft-spoken, sedate Marine veteran. His presence gave Colbert the excuse to take one of his classic shots at conservative pundits.
“I didn’t go, so I thought Iraq was a good thing,” he bragged. “I wanted to, but I was too busy using the troops as a cudgeul to punish those who disagree with me politically.”
Klay demanded more reflection on America’s wars from everyone who voted for Bush, or for Obama, or didn’t vote at all.
“These are your wars,” Klay stressed.
It was a serious interview sprinkled with brevity, the kind Colbert will no doubt execute at his new gig, too. But once he’s not “Colbert” Colbert, who will tell us where to find bacon in the vast Iraqi desert?
Follow Sara Smith on Twitter: @SarawatchesKC