It’s almost as difficult for a star to shine flawlessly on The Colbert Report as it is for one to fall flat. Stephen Colbert’s skewed and wacky take on conservative talk shows requires a fine balance of earnestness and buffoonery, and while Stephen always manages to carry guests along with him on his harrumphing hayride, the ones that try to match him quip for quip are often left hanging out with a deer-in-the-headlights grin on their faces.
So it came as a delightful surprise that folk-pop icon Carole King’s recent appearance found her holding her own and more in the satiric give and take. Her liberal politics were ripe fodder for Stephen’s thrusts, and rather than reacting defensively, King gave him some ripe setups (always a sure-fire ticket for a repeat appearance – hosts love a guest who plays to their strengths) and still managed to get in her own zingers. (She had obviously done her homework, evidenced by her lobbing a line about his obsession with bears.)
In fact, all that keeps her guest slot from getting a full 5 Whispers is that she may have seduced Stephen too well. When he asked King the reason for the current re-release of her classic “Tapestry” album, she responded, “Sony decided it was time to put out yet another package!” Her candor so disarmed him that it may have kept him from venturing fully into the outrageous liberal-baiting realms his audience so loves.
That King had charmed the puckish Mr. Colbert was apparent when after the break, he introduced her performance of “I Feel the Earth Move” with a simple, heartfelt “Ladies and gentlemen – Carole King.” And while her voice was showing a bit of age, she easily reminded us why she is a singer-songwriting legend still turning out anticipated albums.