“Hello, it’s great to be back at Carnegie Hall. Despite Lindsey Graham’s advice, I honored my subpoena to be here today,” Stephen Colbert snarked as he took the stage at CBS’ annual Carnegie Hall Upfront presentation.
Like TBS’ Conan O’Brien, NBC’s Seth Meyers, and especially ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, the CBS late-night host’s Upfront performance has become institution.
Colbert poked fun at the network and the media buyers in the audience, but mostly lobbed grenades in the general direction of the Trump administration and its minions.
And of course, Colbert made that crack about ousted CBS CEO Les Moonves that tore up the trades Wednesday evening.
“Today is about about you advertisers,” Colbert gushed at media buyers who filled Carnegie Hall.
“This your chance to sit back and let us sell to you! And because I respect you, we’re not going to destroy the show by adding commercials. Those things are awful!” he joshed.
Before his appearance, Colbert said, CBS gave him a “massive document today about how well CBS performed this year” to help him craft his on-stage remarks. He did not have time to read it, he confessed, instead, relying on Bill Barr’s four-page summary.
“Turns out Les Moonves was totally exonerated! I did not see that coming!” Colbert said as the crowd gasp/laughed.
“There had to be one,” he smiled slyly, as social media took it from there.
“I can reveal the most important stat about CBS: We’re No. 1, baby!”
“That’s No. 1 for 11 years! That means a lot of old people who don’t realize the TV in the basement has been on for a decade,” Colbert crowed.
Noting CBS’ new series from Chuck Lorre and Dick Wolf, Colbert boasted, “when it comes to finding new voices, CBS will take a chance on anyone who already is on CBS. We mean that. Advertisers, you are in the right place!”
The Big Bang Theory, Colbert revealed, is going off the air because “everyone one of them is running” in 2020.
“And, so far, they are all polling ahead of John Hickenlooper” who is “so obscure he’s not even a reference in a joke.”
CBS is home to some of the highest rated crime dramas on TV, the Late Show star reminded viewers, ticking off FBI, Blue Bloods, and “your NCIS’ LA through New Orleans.”
“For some reason these days, Americans really want to watch people, who obviously committed crimes, go to jail for them!” Colbert added, pointedly.
CBS being tied for first among adults 25-54, Colbert revealed he had aged out of that key advertiser demo just two days earlier.
“I want to thank you for all the years you gave a damn about what I watched,” he said, adding “I just hope my data made a difference for the next generation of TV watchers. Now I’m off to — well again, you don’t care.”
With Big Bang Theory going off the air, CBS does have one troubling trend, the late-night show cautioned. “We are are down to one Sheldon,” he said, calling for the creation of a Captive Sheldon Breeding Program.
“Jim Parsons, we need DNA,” Colbert SOS-ed. “Get yourself a bottle of scotch, an issue of Scientific American, and do your duty, sir.”
“Everyone have that image in your head?” Colbert asked media buyers.