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Stephen Colbert has spent a lot of time on television in the past two decades, and during most of that time, he's been smiling, which is common for a comedian telling some of late night's funniest jokes. Happiness was harder to come by for many months into Colbert's reign as host of CBS' Late Show, which was failing to connect with audiences. But after finding his footing, Colbert flourished and is regularly beating Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show in total viewers. And you know how The Late Show staff celebrates those wins? Pizza parties!
I'm sure it was some great philosopher or mathematician or mutant turtle that said, "Winning should be celebration enough, but everything is better with pizza," and it's kind of fantastic to know that the Late Show staff is rewarded for their successes in the same way an elementary class is rewarded for selling cookie dough. It just goes to prove that even if your job makes you confront subject matter you might disagree with in order to spin it into something pleasing, the woe is nothing that a little free food can't fix. Especially when it's the melty and cheesy kind of food.
Stephen Colbert recently spoke with The New York Times about how The Late Show has managed to right the ratings ship -- at least as far as total viewers go, since The Tonight Show still can't yet be topped in the 18-49 demographic -- and that's when it became clear that Tuesdays were a very happy time to be inside CBS series' offices. Because when the numbers come out and reveal that The Late Show has beaten The Tonight Show's viewership, that's when it's "pizza day," as Colbert put it himself.
One can imagine there's a certain expectation for pizza among Late Show crew members, considering its night-winning streak started back in mid-February and hasn't let up since, just as Stephen Colbert hasn't let up on his hard push on political satire. Weekly grub is not something that workers in any field like to pass up, so you can bet everyone will be pushing forward just as hard as they have been to keep the hair-tousling Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show in its second-place position.
As it's shared by both Stephen Colbert and Chris Licht, the executive producer whose mid-2016 addition to The Late Show was a huge factor in its ratings upswing, everything really came together once Colbert focused on hosting and the audience rather than behind-the-scenes issues. (Like pizza?) This allowed for more frequent adjustments in format, partly in the form of live telecasts that follow important political events, which viewers have responded well to. A more pronounced monologue has helped to maintain consistency, and the show is also taking other steps to keep interest high, such as adding new interviews and segments to repeat episodes in an effort to freshen them up.
Will The Late Show's staff get to eat pizza every Tuesday for the rest of 2017? Nobody would have even hyperbolized that last year, for more reasons than one, but we'll be extremely interested to see how it all (personal) pans out. You can watch Stephen Colbert every weeknight on CBS at 11:35 p.m. ET. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide to see what's coming to the small screen in the near future.