Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sourdough, Sondheim, handstands: Stephen Colbert and Jake Gyllenhaal on late-night's new normal

Stephen Colbert, Jake Gyllenhaal
Stephen Colbert, Jake Gyllenhaal
Screenshot: The Late Show

At least funny people are going entertainingly nuts during the pandemic shutdown. Stephen Colbert, when not temporarily experimenting with a new hair-part (which is different than a new hairpiece), started off his Tuesday interview with The Sack Lunch Bunch’s Mr. Music Jake Gyllenhaal by getting emphatically shushed. Seems that the homebound actor has jumped on the shut-in bread making bandwagon, more specifically what Colbert termed the “sourdough cult,” and sees near-silence as integral to the rise of a new and tender loaf of eccentrically bitter bread. Colbert laughed, but then whipped out his own plastic container of sourdough starter to show off, so the cult has its hooks firmly in all corners of the entertainment industry now.

Joking that their initial, bread-based conversation was either going to get Super Bowl ratings or be the final nail in the late-night coffin, Colbert admitted to his guest, “I have no idea what motivates anyone to watch television any more.” (Note to Stephen Colbert—anything. We will officially watch anything at this point.) And while The Great British Baking Show proves conclusively that the world will stare enraptured at the spectacle of bread literally rising, the two did move on to some other topics, mainly just to amuse themselves, it seems. Speaking of Mr. Music, Colbert—who himself memorably essayed the composer’s work in the past—was effusive in praising self-described “not a professional singer” Gyllenhaal’s recent performance of “Move On” from Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday In The Park With George. Doing the a cappella duet with stage George costar Annaleigh Ashford as part of the all-star lineup performing in Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration made the case that the Spider-Man: Far From Home star is actually a pretty good professional singer (plus, he did get paid), but if he wants to protect his nonprofessional status, Colbert’s okay with it.

Speaking of Spidey, Gyllenhaal also watched the clip of himself putting on a T-shirt while hand-standing, the sort of internet challenge (from big screen nemesis Tom Holland) that you dare your friends to do when everyone is going stir crazy. He pulled off the putting on with aplomb (while fellow Marvel star Ryan Reynolds chickened out), although he says, that, as a little brother, his top-that challenge to big sister Maggie proved, once again, that big sisters can do everything a thousand times better. And while Gyllenhaal was there to sort-of promote the free Audible recording of Sea Wall/A Life, the paired monologues he and Tom Sturridge were performing on Broadway before the unpleasantness, he and Colbert talked—both cheekily and with feeling—about the sudden strange emptiness of performing solo what they’d been presenting before a live audience. Summing up pretty much everything about this year so far as well as his recording booth monologue, “Worse and scarier,” is how Gyllenhaal put it. Colbert, chiming in, noted that the energy feedback he gets (or got) from audiences each night is literally restorative, telling the actor, “I could be sick and come offstage and I’m healed.” Man, making bread while making due seems to be what everyone’s up to these days.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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