Stephen Colbert, one of the kings of late-night TV comedy, has had to make some sitting room – and it’s ample sitting room at that – on his talk show throne. As a recent guest on the CBS fixture “Late Show,” hip-hop’s Nicki Minaj, daughter of Indian and Afro-Trinidadian parents, proved that she reigned supreme.
Her Aug. 13 appearance, promoting her new album “Queen,” stopped Colbert in mid-sentence as she produced the album’s cover in which she is seen in a sultry seated pose, her notoriously generous curves adorned by little more than strategically placed glitter and a glare. He noted quickly that two of her most prominent frontal features had been blurred out to make the image broadcast-friendly.
“You’re an artist,” he said. “Would you blur the Venus de Milo?” She added: Would you blur the Mona Lisa?”
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Then struggling to comply with network censorship standards, Colbert quickly detoured to the album’s contents instead, gently chiding Minaj over the lyrics of one of its racier songs, “Barbie Dreams,” which lists the men in her life whom she’s publicly denying any chance of a steamy romantic encounter – Drake, Eminem, D.J. Khaled among them – and setting those tough-talking rejections to music.
“I notice,” Colbert interjected politely, “I’m not on that list….”
Minaj took the bait and ran with it in a rapping retort that kept network censors quick on the trigger: “I might [bleep] Stephen after the show…..He’s gonna come back to work with a magical glow.”
Colbert, no longer unflappable, lost it, burying his face on his desk as she fanned him, laughing.
“I wasn’t done Stephen,” she said insistently, gathering momentum to launch a second verse that finished him off:
“But if you see us please [bleep] don’t stare….Just address me as Queen Nicki Colbert.”
At one point during the interview, Colbert, looking a little desperate, asks no one in particular: “Are we still broadcasting?”
Fortunately the cameras – like the laughter from the studio audience itself – kept rolling. And Colbert, who later made his own attempt to match a rap-for-a-rap, bowed with respect to his queen.