To cleanse the palate on a slow news day, a leftover from last night in case you missed it. The political stuff gets going at around 4:35. Why Cruz would agree to do Colbert’s show given the fact that he spent the last 10 years mocking conservatives on Comedy Central, I’m not sure. I suppose when you’re running for president that any media is good media, especially when it’s outside the usual Fox News/talk radio conservative lane. (And especially when media oxygen is thin thanks to Trump.) This was a chance for him to introduce himself to people who don’t know who he is and to show off his sense of humor to those who’ve heard of him but know him only as some gargoyle that the press hates. Tough crowd, though — the applause is barely audible when Colbert asks the audience to welcome him to the stage.
More interesting than Cruz himself here, arguably, is watching Colbert shorn of his fake-conservative persona. He’s scrupulously respectful, even shushing the audience at one point and reminding them that Cruz is his guest when they start to grouse about Cruz’s gay-marriage answer. I wonder if that’s a network diktat — this ain’t Comedy Central anymore so it’s time to pretend to respect the conservatives watching — or a strategy of Colbert’s own making. Purely as a matter of being competitive with Fallon and Kimmel, it makes sense for him to establish early in his new gig that big-name conservatives needn’t fear coming on his show. His guest tonight: Donald Trump. No kidding.