Stephen Colbert's faux feuding (and "Friday" duet) partner Jimmy Fallon is late night comedy's king of music, between his dead-on imitations of Neil Young and Jim Morrison, and tribute weeks dedicated to the likes of the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.
But Colbert hasn't let his conservative character squelch a love of popular music that’s led to an increasingly liberal offering of live numbers by performers ranging from Nas to The National. In 2011, he famously doubled the program to an hour for a special featuring Radiohead.
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On Wednesday night, Colbert expands his Comedy Central show again for an even bigger act: Paul McCartney, marking a musical milestone for "The Colbert Report."
McCartney, who debuted on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with his fellow Beatles three months before Colbert was born, remarkably is in the midst of a milestone-filled stretch himself.
McCartney just finished a two-concert stint at the Barclays Center, becoming the first Beatle to play Brooklyn (during Monday's finale show he laughed as he noted a fan's sign: "Brooklyn Girls do it Eight Days a Week"). His current "Out There" tour features songs he's never performed live – including a brilliant pulsing and swirling version of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"
On Friday, he's set to make his Bonnaroo debut. And oh, yeah: four days later he turns 71.
McCartney’s age didn’t matter to a multigenerational audience that cheered and sang along Monday night at Barclays as he tore through 38 classics in a rousing two-hour, 45-minute – and intermission-free – performance.
McCartney only has an hour with Colbert, but we'll take it. The special bodes to bring a mix of Colbert's reverent/irreverent interviewing style (“I think this McCartney kid’s got something special and I’m gonna put him on the map!” he gushes in the press release
promoting the show) and performances by McCartney, whose 1976 "Wings Over America" live album was recently rereleased.
also promises fans an exclusive track. Perhaps they’ll sing a duet, as when Fallon and McCartney crooned "Yesterday" in 2010 with an expanded version of the original placeholder lyrics (“Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs…”).
McCartney sang a snippet of “Scrambled Eggs” during his second encore Monday, lightening the mood after “Yesterday,” perhaps his most sentimental song. But we’re not looking to yesterday as much as to Wednesday, when Colbert and McCartney team with a promise of offering some laughs and creating new musical memories.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.