Stephen Colbert is the current king of late-night television.
The “Late Show” host has dominated the ratings for 10 straight weeks as viewers flock to see him clobber the Trump administration over his apolitical competitor Jimmy Fallon. But his show’s success — and the wealth of material Trump and his team provide — isn’t enough for Colbert to willingly roll the dice on the world’s fate.
“I would trade good ratings for a better president,” Colbert told The Hollywood Reporter when asked if he owes Trump a thank-you note for the show’s ratings.
Colbert added that he doesn’t attribute his ratings to Trump at all.
“We were waiting for something that everybody cared about ... Donald Trump is epoch-making; he changes everything,” he explained. “And so we were ready for something that galvanized people’s attention and changed their priorities ... Because if it’s not Donald Trump, it’s something else. There will be something else that we care about, hopefully happy, possibly tragic.”
Colbert admits he often gets angry about the news but told THR the goal is “not to be angry on camera.” Though, there are sometimes he feels that anger creeping up on him while taping.
“Sometimes there is no way to fully extricate it from the material because it is the marble of the statue itself,” he explained, adding: “So Trump [finally admitting] back during the campaign that Barack Obama was born in the U.S., period, that made me super angry. Like, “Come on, now you’re really trying to make us feel like we’re crazy. You’re gaslighting us.”
Meanwhile, Colbert revealed that nothing is off-limits when it comes to Trump, with the exception of his 11-year-old son Barron. It’s a line most late-night shows won’t cross either, after NBC indefinitely suspended “Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich for mocking Barron on Twitter.
“I don’t want to make jokes about Barron,” he said. “We had some joke about how Jared Kushner’s got to save the Middle East and [deal with] Mexico, and I said [in the writers room]: ‘This is a lot. Can we give one of these jobs to Barron?’ And we went, ‘Ahhh, make it Tiffany.’ It’s not a joke at Barron’s expense, but it’s not even worth getting into that.”
He added, “Like, please, he’s just a kid. But Trump is the president, there is nothing about him that’s off-limits. What could possibly be off-limits?”
For more with Stephen Colbert, head over to The Hollywood Reporter.