TV & Showbiz

CBS’s ‘Late Show’ to Bring Back a Studio Audience

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The roar of a studio audience will return to the Ed Sullivan Theater next month when Stephen Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ lets the crowd back in.

Producers of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert set June 14 as the date they will resume taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater with a studio audience.

The program will become the first late-night talk show to welcome back an audience. The tapings will allow approximately 400 people back into the famous New York City theater. It will be the first time in more than a year Colbert performed in front of a large audience on his show.

The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, emptied audiences on both coasts. The New York Times reported this forced late-night shows to “get creative” by interviewing guests by videoconference.

Colbert initially recorded his show from his home. For his first at-home show, he reclined in his bathtub, complete with suds as if he were in the middle of a bubble bath. Back in August, he returned to the Ed Sullivan Theater where a small studio set was built to serve as his home base in the meantime.

Colbert, for those keeping count, fronted 205 episodes of his show without an audience. During the no-audience phase, changed the name of the show. The Late Show became A Late Show.

If that’s supposed to be funny, it went by me. But I can say that’s true of many pieces of Colbert’s schtick.

But not just anyone will be able to fill the seats.

To get into the theater, fans will have to prove they received full vaccination against COVID-19. So if you’re an anti-vaxxer hoping to see the show in person, you’ll find yourself disappointed.

Variety reports that face masks for the audience members will be optional.

But all staff and crew members will face regular testing before coming to work. That will include daily screening for symptoms.

The show will also have a COVID-19 compliance officer who will “monitor and enforce all health and safety protocols.” I bet that wouldn’t be a particularly fun job!

‘Late Show’ experiment could open flood gates

If all goes well at The Late Show, it could pave the way for the return of studio audiences elsewhere. That will include other late-night shows like The Tonight Show on NBC.

But it will likely also help other shows desperately in need of a returning studio audience like talk shows and game shows.

CBS’s Let’s Make a Deal and The Price is Right have definitely suffered without the typical cheering crowds. ‘Deal’ fared better, honestly, by bringing in a mix of live and at-home video-conferenced players. But ‘Price’ filled in the familiar audience pit and replaced it with a lot of white floor that the contestants now dance across as they “come on in.” They look like they’re being coached to act as over-the-top as they possibly can. They don’t seem to realize how fake and annoying it looks.

I hope that the audience will be back in time for ‘Price’s’ 50th season. Maybe the crowd will make people act naturally excited without the fake exaggeration.

And I hope the return of the audience at The Late Show doesn’t come with any COVID-19-related problems. It will be nice to see one more step toward normalcy.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.