Stephen Colbert’s lack of knowledge for Eminem and the world of rap made that interview hilarious, yet extremely awkward.
Stephen Colbert has had his fair share of incredibly uncomfortable interviews. His interaction with former President Donald Trump is something fans are still talking about as was his utterly awkward exchange with Kristen Stewart. But all of these interviews occurred after he took over The Late Show from David Letterman. The truth is, some of Stephen’s most uncomfortable interviews happened ways before that. Especially his sit down with acclaimed rapper Eminem.
Many of Stephen’s awkward interviews from the olden days were sparked by the right-wing media pundit he played on The Colbert Report, which he hosted from 2005 until 2016. But his 2015 interview with Eminem actually took place on a public access station in Monroe, Michigan. It was a very strange move for the talk show host right before he ended his 11-year run on Comedy Central to take the job as a late-night talk show host on one of the most acclaimed time slots in television. But Stephen’s choice to actually host a real public access channel with one of the biggest rappers ever was just the beginning of his very, very, very odd moment…
Stephen Colbert Tried To Play The Uneducated Rap Fan With Eminem And It Failed Spectacularly
Digital Trends described Stephen Colbert’s 2015 interview with Eminem as basically an episode of Between Two Ferns. In so many respects they are right. The awkwardness, for one, was akin to Zach Galifianakis’ show. For one, there was a giant plant clumsily placed between the two stars. More importantly, Stephen clearly tried to emulate that unexplainable vibe that just comes so naturally to Zach… only without the antagonistic quality that makes his satirical interview show work so well. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons this bit failed to land with fans and the press. Stephen isn’t antagonistic. He’s dry and openly geeky. And that may not have been the right choice for this type of interview.
Eminem was clearly in on the joke, keeping a straight face when Stephen pretended not to know what “feat” on a song meant or that Eminem and Marshall Mathers were the same person… but the rapper was also unconvincing.
Stephen Colbert may be one of the masters of dry comedy, but his purposefully inept questions didn’t seem to playfully bounce off Eminem like they do other celebrities. This may have been a combination of poor material and Eminem’s somewhat stand-offish nature. However, when Stephen finally got Eminem to fake being angry, the interview took a positive turn.
It’s clear that when Eminem’s anger is spotlighted (like in his music) his appeal really comes through. And by the end of the interview, which Eminem did to promote his music in the movie Southpaw, their interview chemistry turns from awkward to entertainingly awkward. As Eminem’s aggression escalated, so did Stephen’s… and… for a moment… the interview takes off.
“You come up in my house and you flex up on me and you expect me to back down?” Stephen said. “You are sadly mistaken!”
“…I’m not sure what to do here,” Eminem responded.
“I know. No, you don’t.”
The Truth About Stephen Colbert’s Interview With Eminem
We have absolutely no idea why Stephen Colbert and CBS wanted to take over a public access channel in Michigan, but it did wonders for the station itself. In an article by MLive, the executive director of The Monroe Public Access channel, Milward Beaudry, revealed that CBS kept him in the dark as to the true nature of the segment. They phoned up weeks ahead, asking about the capabilities of the station and then booked it for one of their shows. Milward, and the employees of the channel were aware that the segment would involve the new host of The Late Show but they had no idea who he would be interviewing.
It wasn’t until the day of the interview that they found out that Michigan superstar Eminem was going to be the subject. This was of huge excitement to both the executive director and the public access channel crew, many of whom were hired by CBS to film the interview instead of the network’s own employees.
Given that The Monroe Public Access Channel is a nonprofit, they didn’t have much in the way of accommodations for the CBS staff, Stephen, or the acclaimed rapper. They didn’t have proper dressing rooms or even enough space to house them all. Yet, the crew managed to make do, bringing quite a bit of extra attention and financial resources to the station. Whether the awkward segment worked or not is up to the eye of the beholder, but what is clear is that they did Monroe Public Access Channel a solid.