In this photo provided by CBS, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, left, takes a “selfie” with host David Letterman on the set of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” Tuesday, April 22, 2014 in New York. This was Colbert’s first visit to the show since CBS announced that he will succeed Letterman as host when he retires in 2015. (AP Photo/Jeffrey R. Staab) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE, FOR NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY (AP)

Why is no one talking about how unflattering Stephen Colbert's glasses are?

Stephen Colbert, call your stylist


Daniel D'Addario
April 23, 2014 11:38PM (UTC)

Stephen Colbert's appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" -- the show he'll take over when Letterman retires next year -- has lit up the Internet all day, with Colbert's reading of a "Top Ten" list and discussion of his history with the elder host. (Apparently Colbert turned down a Letterman internship in the '80s.) It all positioned Colbert as a potential late-night leader, come 2015.

But competing late-night hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon will have nothing to worry about as long as Colbert does one thing: keep his hideous new glasses, a pair of blocky black-framed spectacles. These glasses will, if left above Colbert's nose, just maybe kill "The Late Show."

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On "The Colbert Report," his current Comedy Central series, Colbert appears in character as a conservative pundit, wearing an unobtrusive pair of wire-rimmed specs. Wanting to move beyond his character is a very understandable impulse, but couldn't Colbert have trusted his audience to follow him without an obvious visual cue? There's a reason Fox News hosts -- and as famous a TV host as, yes, David Letterman -- don't wear bulky glasses. It's because they pull focus.

How was anyone watching the Colbert-Letterman interview able to focus on the jokes? When Stephen Colbert had his head up, he looked like the "cool" college professor; when he angled it even a bit, as when taking a "selfie" with Letterman, the top rim of his dark-framed glasses (which did not seem to fit well) blocked his pupils. The effect was reminiscent of Robocop.

If an entertainer wants to have a particular spectacle "look," they have to commit to it early in the career -- that's just the way it is. A new adornment on a familiar face is jarring in the first place. No one watching Colbert do an out-of-character interview needs a visual cue to remember he's not really a conservative pundit; instead, that visual cue makes him look like an entirely different person, or just an Uncanny Valley Colbert.

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Wasn't the whole appeal of Colbert's real-life persona, away from "The Colbert Report," that it was warm and unaffected? These glasses are a bit too on-trend for Colbert, as well as too large by far for a person with fairly delicate features. He looks as though he's chasing the 20-something audience by performing an outdated idea of what is "hip" across his face.

Colbert's pursuit of a new look must be stopped. Otherwise, by the time he launches his show, he may end up in a monocle.


Daniel D'Addario

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

David Letterman Stephen Colbert The Colbert Report The Late Show

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