Colbert and the show experienced some early jitters, stemming from the fact that the whole thing was live, but hit their stride about halfway through Colbert's opening monologue, when he tossed a football to "the tall guy with the really big ears."
Said guy was President Barack Obama. (You can watch what happens above. Obama first appears around the 5:40 mark.)
A quick game of catch
The idea was this: Colbert would toss the ol' pigskin to a few other people, who would then toss it back to him, in a long game of catch. He tossed first to Lt. Col. Christopher Landers in Afghanistan. After getting the ball back, Colbert then pitched it to astronaut Scott Kelly, who passed the ball along to Chewbacca, who sent it back to Colbert.
Which is when Obama entered the picture.
The whole segment was a great reminder of why Obama is such a fun presence on late-night shows, particularly in his second term, when he doesn't have to worry about campaigning for reelection and can just screw around.
The best part of the segment arrives when Obama reveals that he doesn't know the hard details of the Super Bowl — because this is a pretaped segment from a week ago. To prove it, he brings out the Colbert of the past to confer with the Colbert of the present, in a wacky mind bender. (Past Colbert wishes Present Colbert good luck.)
But Obama also reveals the following important facts:
- He knows the next 50 Super Bowl winners: This is how he can tell Stephen the Broncos have won the game, even if he doesn't know details of the game. The upcoming winners are printed on the back of the Constitution.
- There will be a National Treasure 3: That script is printed on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
- Every year, he calls the winning team to congratulate them: We know that, though. He also reveals that he may call the losing team — "especially if I bet on them," Obama mutters.
But wait! There's more! Even Michelle Obama gets in on the fun!
While leading a group of children in a touchdown dance, the first lady is the next target of this giant game of catch, but when she angrily asks why someone is throwing around a football in the White House, her husband lets Colbert take the fall.
The whole thing is worth watching, which you can do above.
The episode's funniest segment came even later and featured Will Ferrell
The best part of the live Late Show was the following visit from Will Ferrell, who appeared in character as some sort of zoologist, brought along exotic animals, and refused to discuss his role in Zoolander 2. It's a terrific comic sketch, which I won't spoil, and somewhere around the fourth or fifth animal, it hits wonderful heights of zaniness. Watch it!