YouTube’s biggest star was on the Late Show last night—and the segment was actually pretty good.
Really, I’d say that Colbert gave Jimmy Kimmel a master class in how to cover the phenomenon that is Let’s Plays. Going in, Colbert immediately poked fun at television, calling it a “steam-powered medium”—and Pewdiepie talked about how, personally, he never actually watches TV. This of course is not uncommon for people who are as young as Pewdiepie, but it was refreshing to acknowledge this reality without berating it. Colbert also gave props to Pewdiepie’s immense success. Contrast that with Kimmel’s awful and controversial coverage of YouTube, where he said things like “we should all be ashamed of themselves for failing as parents” when describing people who choose to watch other people play video games online. Kimmel totally came off as an out-of-touch dude who didn’t get YouTube but was intent on making fun of it and the people who enjoy it anyway. Colbert on the other hand not only did his homework, he sounded like he had respect for YouTubers and what they do. It’s an approach that requires confidence.
“I want to thank the internet for allowing their emperor to be here for the evening,” Colbert joked.
Colbert pulled all of this off…while still poking fun at YouTube, too. Because lets face it: being able to yell at video games and get paid is a pretty ridiculous concept. Pewdiepie said Let’s Plays allowed people to pretend they were sitting on a couch with a friend, and Colbert joked that the difference was that they would never get the controller. Kimmel’s schtick pointed out the very same thing, but Colbert managed to hit that note without also shitting on the audience. It didn’t feel mean. It was just funny. I could laugh along, even if Colbert was poking fun at people like me.
The key here was in how Colbert approached the entire thing. There was one point, for example, where he showed a clip of Pewdiepie hooting and hollering at game footage. It would have been really easy to talk down to Pewdiepie then and there. Instead the footage spoke for itself. Maybe you think it’s awesome. Maybe you think it’s ridiculous. Its up for you to decide. Colbert didn’t tell you how to feel, he just joked that, if Pewdiepie plays games for a living, then what is he supposed to do for fun?
You can watch some of the segment in the clip below—it’s not the entire thing that aired last night, but at the very least you’ll hear Pewdiepie talk about Swedish swear words. Heh.
Or, if you’d like to watch the entire segment in full, you can look at what people have uploaded to YouTube—just be warned, the quality can be kind of poor.