Stephen Sondheim holds his own against Stephen Colbert


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Stephen Sondheim
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It was a Stephen-squared event Tuesday night on Comedy Central’s ‘The Colbert Report’ when host Stephen Colbert sat down to talk with Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim. The rapid-fire irony of Colbert’s show has been known to stymie many a guest, but the 80-year-old Sondheim proved a worthy foil for the comedian’s tongue-in-cheek pomposity.

Sondheim appeared on the show as part of a promotional tour for his new memoir, ‘Finishing the Hat.’ (He came to Los Angeles last month as part of the UCLA Live series to talk about the book.) Colbert demonstrated that he knows his Sondheim musicals -- or at least has a diligent staff of researchers -- and quizzed the songwriter about his experience working on ‘West Side Story,’ his professional relationship with Oscar Hammerstein II and more.


‘All of these musicals that you wrote, they were originally Disney animations, correct?’ asked Colbert. To which Sondheim replied, ‘We would like them to be.’

The faux newsman later pointed out that Maria from ‘West Side Story’ is an illegal immigrant and that Sondheim’s lyric ‘There’s a Place for Us’ is therefore invalid.

Colbert then serenaded Sondheim with his own version of ‘Send in the Clowns,’ which attempts to explain that the clowns of the song are late becaue they are stuck in bad traffic.

You can watch the full ‘Colbert Report’ segment on Sondheim in the video clip above.

-- David Ng


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