It seems we all need help, even the genius comedian Stephen Colbert. In an article for Variety on April 13, Brian Steinberg (@bristei) noted that “Late Show”  is getting a new showrunner and executive producer in Chris Licht.


The part of Steinberg’s piece that stood out to me was this,


He {Colbert} has not had much outside counsel. The team in charge of “Late Show” is the team that ran “Colbert Report,” with some minor exceptions…But the top producers are people with whom Colbert has worked for years.

CBS let Colbert come in and run “Late Show” himself, according to a person familiar with the situation, a move that might have raised eyebrows among rivals.


It might have seemed the better part of wisdom to allow Colbert to bring his tribe from “Colbert Report” over to run things at “Late Show.” Whether or not you liked Colbert’s shtick on the “Report,” it’s hard to argue with the seemingly ever-growing success that show enjoyed. Why not keep that same tribe in tact over at “Late Show” and let their trust and cohesion  shape Colbert’s new role?


Why not?

Because context matters.


[Tweet “Context is as important as content. @davefleming360”]


Taking Colbert’s tribe from “Report” and dropping it in at “Late Show” ran the risk of ignoring that context is as important as content. Things that work in one context may not work in another. And that is what has occurred on “Late Show.”


When I watch Colbert on “Late Show,” I get the feeling the only thing he’s dropped from his last show is the conservative persona. What you’ve got then (on “Late Show”) is the “Colbert Report” without the conservative egocentric shtick that made the show hilarious. Though still clever and brilliant as a comedian, the unvarnished Colbert isn’t working because it doesn’t take into account the enormous contextual difference between the two shows.


There is no doubt that disruption is ahead for “Late Show.” I wish Colbert and his tribe (including the new tribal leader) nothing but success. If Licht is smart, which I’m sure he is, he’ll adapt the show based on the understanding that, in this case, context trumps content.


When your context changes, ask: How will I need to disrupt the success of my last context in order to ensure success continues in the new one?