The premiere week of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has been full of ups and downs, but no interaction has been more meaningful than the one between Colbert and Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday night. Colbert’s reputation as a wisecracker precedes him, but when he had the chance to talk to a man as influential as Biden, his tone changed significantly.

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As any fan of Stephen Colbert would have expected, the new Late Show has a notable preference for policy makers over movie makers, and all week Colbert has looked and sounded more comfortable speaking to the Bushes and Bidens of the world than the Clooneys and Johanssons.

The interview with Jeb Bush was sadly hacked to bits in editing after it ran long while the show was taping, but what we saw was funny and insightful, conjuring up memories of the best Colbert Report interviews. Two days later, Colbert flipped the script entirely with Biden, immediately broaching the subject of the VP’s son, Beau, without cracking a single joke.

It’s a surprisingly emotional and candid conversation — one worth watching regardless of your political leaning. The fact that Colbert can spend 20 minutes of a late night talk show not trying to be funny is a bit of a shock to the system, but it’s moments like these that are going to help separate him from the crowd.

Watch both parts of the interview with Joe Biden below:


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