Donald Trump declared this week that Stephen Colbert is a “no-talent guy” — and Colbert couldn’t be more thrilled.
“The president of the United States has personally come after me and my show and there's only one thing to say,” Colbert said during his May 11 show, before breaking into thrilled giggles. “Yay.”
Colbert's Late Show has been running on white-hot disdain ever since Donald Trump became President Trump. The show’s ratings have climbed higher and higher as every monologue has grown more and more furious. But Colbert outdid himself when he joked on May 1 that Trump’s mouth was only good for being “Vladimir Putin’s cock holster,” a punchline that inspired obscenity complaints to the Federal Communications Commission and, apparently, caught the president’s attention.
Trump lobbed his ensuing “no-talent” charge against Colbert during a May 8 dinner with Time, saying “there’s nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy.” Then, per Trump tradition, he pivoted to the topic of ratings, insisting that Colbert’s higher ratings since the inauguration were all thanks to him anyway.
Responding to the president’s charges on May 11, Colbert didn’t even try to hide his glee.
"Mr. Trump, there's a lot you don't understand, but I never thought one of those would be show business!” Colbert exclaimed. “Don't you get that for a year, I've been trying to get you to say my name? You've been very restrained, admirably restrained, but now you did it.”
And then, grinning into the camera, Colbert dropped a sentence he knew would get under the president’s notoriously thin skin: “I won."
From there, Colbert acknowledged that Trump is right about his administration being good for business and launched into a mini roast of the president himself, his voice thick with sarcasm as he addressed the man directly.
"You're not wrong: I do occasionally use adult language,” Colbert admitted. “And I do it in public, instead of the privacy of an Access Hollywood bus. Now that’s dignified.”
And sure, Colbert continued, cracking obscene jokes about President Trump has helped The Late Show attract more viewers. “It's almost like the majority of Americans didn't want you to be president,” Colbert faux-mused, eyebrow arching.
“You know who has really bad ratings these days?” the host asked. “You do. I heard they're thinking of switching your time slot with Mike Pence."
For as pointed as most of Colbert’s jokes were, though, none were more strategically deployed than his closer, a Hail Mary gambit that — as Trump will very likely point to as proof of Colbert’s hackery — drove The Late Show’s studio audience wild.
“Since all of my success is clearly based on talking about you,” Colbert concluded, “if you really want to take me down, there's an obvious way: resign."
There’s no word yet on whether Trump has seen the bit or considered the challenge, but if Colbert’s luck hasn’t run out, he can look forward to a POTUS tweet any minute now.