September 6th, 2015
02:55 PM ET

Comedian John Fugelsang on Stephen Colbert: “One thing - that will inform the quality of Stephen's show is his lifelong commitment to Catholic principles of social justice”

Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, comedian and host of SiriusXM’s Tell Me Everything, John Fugelsang, joined host Brian Stelter to discuss his expectations for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as host, Vice President Biden's appearance during Colbert’s kickoff week, and how Colbert’s Catholic principles will add to the quality of the show.

Reliable Sources airs Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon (ET).

A video, text highlights, and a full transcript from the show are available below.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES”

VIDEO:

Will Joe Biden announce his candidacy on Colbert?

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS:

Comedian and host of SiriusXM’s Tell Me Everything, John Fugelsang on his expectations of The Late Show with Stephan Colbert: It will be like Letterman in the sense I think it will have a lot of heart.  …I do think you will see a certain more cerebral quality of guests.  And I think that will speak well to the kind of show he wants to do.  It will definitely be funny.  It will definitely be entertaining.  But I think that he's so excited to be dropping the satirical persona of this Bill O'Reilly character that a lot of the quality will come through the humor of the sketches and the jokes. …Also, the band is going to be dynamite.  Jon Batiste of New Orleans is a terrific musician.  And it's going to be a real different energy - for late-night music. …I think it is going to be - it's going to have the same exuberance that The Colbert Report had, while being more of a traditional variety show, late-night talk show format.

Fugelsang on Vice President Biden's appearance during Colbert’s kickoff week: Biden is always good TV.  And he's always a good talk show guest.  I think whether he's running or not, it's good for him to make this appearance.  And the show is lucky to have him.

Fugelsang on how Stephen Colbert’s Catholic principles adds to the quality of The Late Show: One of the things I think that will inform the quality of Stephen's show that doesn't get talked about too much is his lifelong commitment to Catholic principles of social justice.  Stephen is a practicing Catholic, but he is the kind who uses the Bible in the tradition of Matthew 25, to help the least among us. He testified for migrant workers before Congress.  That kind of morality has always informed his humor.  And I do think that even though he is not going to be doing an overtly political show, it is going to be a hell of a presidential season.  I do think you can look forward to seeing an underlying morality and love of humanity informing the outrage behind a lot of his sketches.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Well, I think Colbert was right to shave off that beard, but he's wrong about the late-night wars.  It's getting very interesting between Colbert and Fallon and all of the rest of the hosts out there.  Colbert has Jeb Bush his very first night and Vice President Joe Biden on his third night, Thursday night, while Fallon has Donald Trump on Friday night.  These shows are not usually, pardon me here, reliable sources of news.  But maybe that's changing.  What can we expect from Colbert?  Joining me now, actor and comedian John Fugelsang, the host of Tell Me Everything on SiriusXM.

John, what do these early bookings tell us about Colbert's plan for The Late Show?

JOHN FUGELSANG, HOST OF SIRIUS XM’S TELL ME EVERYTHING:  Well, it says that he's launching it at a very good time, considering there are 400 Republican nominees for president.  I'm not really worried about a booking war.  And I think that getting into that sort of thing is not really going to be Stephen's style, as he indicated in the video with Jerry Seinfeld.  It will be fun to watch him make Jeb Bush look entertaining, but I think that Colbert is going to go more for content and quality of his segments and his jokes, rather than trying to win any kind of war over the guests they can book. I don't think most people actually - I could be wrong, but I don't think most people actually tune into a talk show for the guests.  They tune in because they like the show.

STELTER:  Well, that's awkward for my guest to say.  But I will let it go. (LAUGHTER) Think about it.  Colbert also has Elon Musk on week one.  He's got the CEO of Uber.  So, he's got some Silicon Valley starts.  And then week two, he has got Bernie Sanders.  And I think, most incredibly, he has got a Supreme Court justice, Stephen Breyer.  It's going to be a very different "Late Show" from David Letterman's just based on those bookings.

FUGELSANG:  It will be like Letterman in the sense I think it will have a lot of heart.  One of the things I was thinking about when we were growing up, Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, they used to have authors on all the time.  It wasn't just reality stars and shiny things.  I think that Colbert was one of the few shows back on Comedy Central where authors could go on TV and do an entertaining conversation about their books.

I do think you will see a certain more cerebral quality of guests.  And I think that will speak well to the kind of show he wants to do.  It will definitely be funny.  It will definitely be entertaining.  But I think that he's so excited to be dropping the satirical persona of this Bill O'Reilly character that a lot of the quality will come through the humor of the sketches and the jokes.

STELTER:  Going back to Biden for one minute, do you think Biden would agree to appear on Colbert's show if he didn't have an announcement to make about some sort of presidential bid?

FUGELSANG:  Oh, do you think Biden would have leaked to Maureen Dowd that his son wanted him to run or do you think Biden would have leaked that he met with Elizabeth Warren secretly in D.C.?

STELTER:  You're making a little bit of an assumption about the leaks there, but I hear what you're saying.  This information always comes from somewhere.

FUGELSANG:  Well, Biden is always good TV.  And he's always a good talk show guest.  I think whether he's running or not, it's good for him to make this appearance.  And the show is lucky to have him.

STELTER:  If he is not making an announcement on the show about any presidential ambitions, it will at least keep people talking and speculating, guessing, about his plans.  So it might be a win either way.

(CROSSTALK)

FUGELSANG:  They're a good mix together.  One of the things I think that will inform the quality of Stephen's show that doesn't get talked about too much is his lifelong commitment to Catholic principles of social justice.  Stephen is a practicing Catholic, but he is the kind who uses the Bible in the tradition of Matthew 25, to help the least among us.

He testified for migrant workers before Congress.  That kind of morality has always informed his humor.  And I do think that even though he is not going to be doing an overtly political show, it is going to be a hell of a presidential season.  He is going to be doing tons of presidential jokes.  And I do think you can look forward to seeing an underlying morality and love of humanity informing the outrage behind a lot of his sketches.

STELTER:  That's an interesting point.  We were trying to get a glimpse behind the scenes this week.  We interviewed some folks who went to the test shows.  You were able to go to The Ed Sullivan Theater, line up, and see a show, but it wasn't taped and never going to be aired.

But in one of the shows, they did a Hillary Clinton sort of lampooning segment, showing lots of clips of Clinton evading questions about her e-mail server.  It sounded a lot like a Daily Show or Colbert Report type of clip reel.  Maybe they're bringing some of that Comedy Central focus on politics to The Late Show.

FUGELSANG:  I hope they will.  I think late night needs that.  And I think that Dave would be doing that sort of thing as well.  And the great thing about not playing that character anymore is that he's now able to go after Democrats and Republicans equally for their mutual silliness.

STELTER:  Oh, that's an interesting point, yes.

FUGELSANG:  Also, the band is going to be dynamite.  Jon Batiste of New Orleans is a terrific musician.  And it's going to be a real different energy and tone for late-night music.

STELTER:  And you know some folks with the show, by the way.  Any other previews you can give us from what is going on there?

FUGELSANG:  Oh, we had a party at my place the other weekend.  And it was David Crosby and me trying to get our friend who writes for Colbert to tell us more.  All she would say is that it's going to be extremely creative. And I think it is going to be - it's going to have the same exuberance that The Colbert Report had, while being more of a traditional variety show, late-night talk show format.

STELTER:  All right, Colbert starting this week, Trevor Noah taking over "The Daily Show" at the end of this month.  It is going to be a very interesting month.  John, thanks for being here.

###END INTERVIEW###


Topics: Brian Stelter • CNN • Reliable Sources
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