Stephen Colbert ended “The Colbert Report” on Thursday night with a sentimental show, giving most of the credit to his fans and guests with one last fantastical smirk and a memorable singalong.
Colbert tried to thank everyone at the end of the show, but ended up just thanking one person, singer Mavis Staples, and asked her to pass it along.
“Mavis, you just call everybody tomorrow.”
The show’s early segment was The (final) Word, subtitled “Same to You, Pal.” It was basically a love letter to his audience, i.e. America, for all the things we have accomplished: “You put a man on the moon, and he started MTV up there.”
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Colbert gave one last shout-out Shout out to the Prescott Group, the shady corporate parent of Prescott Pharmaceuticals, his most loyal fake sponsor. Colbert used Prescott to shill a lot of fanciful drugs over the years, some with side effects such as “skeletal xylophoning,” but none of which sounded much scarier than insidious sponsor Bud Light Lime, which even made an appearance in a Thursday “Daily Show” sketch.
As usual, Prescott Pharmaceuticals sponsored a “Cheating Death” segment, starring Colbert’s old friend Grimmy. Spoiler alert: Grimmy didn’t make it.
The Grim Reaper’s demise acted on Colbert like a hit of meth. “I just killed Death! I am immortal!” And after all that “Lord of the Rings” business, all of a sudden Colbert was the Highlander, holding a sword aloft amid blue lightning strikes.
After a quick commercial break, he declared immortality “kinda lonely, a little snacky,” and told the audience, “I was gonna say goodbye, but now that I’ll live forever, who knows?”
At this point, Colbert broke into “We’ll Meet Again” and was joined onstage by .... everybody. Well, not everybody, but dozens of former guests and friends of the show, which made for an eclectic mixture of vocalists. At one point, the camera panned past Arianna Huffington, Willie Nelson, Bryan Cranston and Big Bird. It was the last of the kind of surreal fare that made the “Report” so distinctive.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was among the group (you can see her at the end). She tweeted: “So much fun to be part of amazing group asked by @StephenAtHome to sing him off his last show. Gonna miss that jerk.”
In the end, Colbert flew into the night sky on Santa’s sleigh with Alex Trebec and Abraham Lincoln (really a unicorn). And that was the end of his unlikely run on Comedy Central. Until, as he predicted, “they reboot it 10 years from now, directed by J.J. Abrams.”
Follow Sara Smith on Twitter: @SarawatchesKC