“I stand before you a broken man,” confided Stephen Colbert at the start of Monday’s Late Show monologue, before continuing, “The front-stabber has been backstabbed.” Colbert was referring, of course, to one Anthony Scaramucci (aka, “The Mooch!”), Donald Trump’s recently hired, even-more-recently fired White House communications director who was unceremoniously shit-canned shortly before The Late Show went to tape. The careening clown car that is the Trump administration moves fast—Colbert briefly debuted the show’s brand new animated Mooch during the monologue—and a late night comedy host who’s been raking in big ratings by counting the bodies as they fall has to come up with new and hilarious ways to say, “That didn’t take long, huh?” if he wants to stay on top.
And sure, Colbert’s feigned disappointment that he won’t have “The Mooch!” to kick around anymore likely carried some genuine comedic frustration. (That exclamation point indicates the extra stank Colbert has always laid on Scaramucci’s chosen nom de spin, as the host has mocked the Mooch’s slicky-boy tough guy persona.) After all, someone is going to be in charge of justifying whatever straight-up hateful nonsense Trump tweets out from his golden throne every morning, so it might as well be someone so eminently mockable. (Who knows what sort of wet fish might be tapped to say, “What the president meant to say was…” after this?) Still, it’s hard to feel too sorry for a guy who strutted into the press room on day one bragging about firing everyone in sight, only to himself get fired after 10 gaffe- and profanity-prone days, technically even before his official start date in his new position. “That’s not even a whole pay period!,” is how Colbert contextualizes The Mooch’s brief tenure.
It’s with that mixture of schadenfreude and regret that Colbert, with the accompaniment of bandleader Jon Batiste and house band Stay Human, grabbed a hand mic and channeled his inner Freddie Mercury. Everyone’s been making “Scaramouche, Scaramouche” jokes for a while now (ten days, to be exact), but not everyone was once personally asked by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim to co-star in a star-crammed revival of one of his musicals, and Colbert showed off some above-average pipes as he turned the sadder section of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” into a gleefully mournful lament for a self-debasing, willingly stereotypical comedic target taken from him too soon. Colbert (or “The Colbooch”) really put his heart into a farewell to a man, as Colbert explains, he’s “been a huge fan of for more than a week now.” Adios, The Mooch. You will be missed, as a sure-fire punchline at least.