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Is 'The Colbert Report' becoming a variety show?

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According to the Associated Press, The Colbert Report is a-changin’: As it books more and more high-profile musical guests from R.E.M. to Neil Young, they say, it’s “grown a variety-show impulse” and “edged closer to Ed Sullivan Show territory.” This is somewhat hilarious because — as the AP presumably did not know when they ran that story on Tuesday afternoon — Stephen would actually claim that he was mulling spinning off a literal variety show that very night! Talk about your eerie coincidences.

But what about the substance of the AP’s point? They note, with a touch of snark, that the Report “was originally launched as a parody of conservative political punditry — and shows like The O’Reilly Factor do not make a habit of hosting music performances.” Uh, fair enough? But I, obvs, think these musical bits are completely awesome. Just check out the opening-sequence gag Colbert pulled last night for Rush’s first TV performance in 30 years (below). Genius, no? I can’t wait to see him go head-to-head with Nas next week…

So you tell me: Are you digging Stephen’s Ed Sullivan moves? Or would you rather he laid off the musical interludes for a while? Rush’s full interview and performance of “Tom Sawyer” are after the jump for anyone who’s still on the fence.