Viewers might know Utkarsh Ambudkar best from his stint as Mindy Kaling’s brother on The Mindy Project or his Simpsons role as the relative who finally calls out Apu’s longtime position as Springfield’s most controversially stereotypical Indian guy voiced by a white guy. (Or as himself in comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu.) But on Monday’s returning Late Show, Ghosts costar Ambudkar was all about corporate synergy (or at least making fun of network cross-series promotion), thanking network-mate Stephen Colbert, “I’m so glad that CBS forced you to have me on the show.”
With Colbert dutifully touting Ghosts’ position as “the most watched comedy” and praising his guest’s performance on the American remake of the British supernatural sitcom of the same name, Ambudkar continued his cheeky dissection of his CBS success. Noting that onscreen wife Rose McIver (the only one who sees the titular ghosts) gets to do all the funny stuff, Ambudkar said of his character, “I basically just stare off into the middle distance.” In the CBS-supplied clip, we do see Ambudkar doing a spot-on funny impression of other co-star (and possessing spirit) Rebecca Wisocky’s imperiously British Hetty.
Ambudkar, who’s also just as well known as the rapper UTK the INC in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway-conquering improv rap group Freestyle Love Supreme, also came prepared to pander to Colbert’s well-documented obsession with all things Lord Of The Rings. Calling for a beat from Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Ambudkar busted out a few rhymes in honor of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s recent 130th birthday. (Or birth anniversary, since Tolkien is not actually a hobbit and died in 1973 at the respectable human age of 81.)
Now, nobody’s saying that the multitalented Ambudkar came prepared with those lines about Legolas. (“Quiver” and “body shiver” are just sitting there, after all.) But Ambudkar, who routinely wows crowds alongside fellow Freestyle Love Supreme rappers Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson, and James Monroe Iglehart, among others, certainly made his Colbert-pleasing verses sound off the cuff, especially in calling out Tolkien’s suspiciously lily-white Middle Earth. (“Where is the melanin?,” makes for a killer hook.) With Colbert showing off a photo of the LOTR-esque matching tattoos sported by the Freestyle Love Supreme crew, Ambudkar joined the ranks of Late Show guests who bring along some Tolkien-adjacent material to get on Stephen Colbert’s good side.