Stephen Colbert is setting the record straight about the whole Daft Punk VMAs fiasco. As it turns out, the whole thing was definitely not a stunt.
Last week, Colbert announced that the French electronic duo could not appear as scheduled on his show, The Colbert Report, because of a contractual obligation with MTV. The host then went on to announce that Daft Punk would be performing at the VMAs on Aug. 25. The thing was, it was supposed to be a secret.
Many wondered if Colbert, always the jokester, was just helping MTV with their promotion seeing as how both networks are owned by the same parent company, Viacom.
Six weeks ago Colbert was approached by his booker, who asked him if he wanted to have the band on his show. He said yeah, because the band never appears on shows. Apparently, the band agreed to come on the show because they were fans, but said they would not perform or be interviewed. Daft Punk would just come on the show and have a little fun with Colbert.
The host, seeing this as a challenge, agreed and came up with the idea of doing a six-minute monologue that would be a think piece on Random Access Memories. The two members of Daft Punk–Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter–would stand by his side just nodding their heads.
But Daft Punk wasn’t that into that idea, so they thought of some different ideas. Some of the suggestions, Colbert said, were really funny. Robots might not have feelings, but they get humor.
Unfortunately, after all this work MTV decided the day before the duo was set to appear that they actually could not appear. It was a surprise to everyone, including Daft Punk’s camp. Colbert tried to talk it out with Van Toffler, the head of President of MTV Networks Music & Logo Group, to get them to agree to let them appear. But unfortunately at the last minute–an hour before the show was set to film–MTV pulled the rug out from under the idea.
Colbert explained his decision to spill the beans about Daft Punk by saying: “All I want to do is accurately explain what happened and then embody my character’s emotional reaction to it. I’m also in character when I’m doing this. As much as this mattered to me as a producer, my character can’t ever lose.”
“I respect MTV’s, you know, rules that they set for themselves and their guests, and expectations,” he said. “I respect Daft Punk making the decision they made. But there’s an emotional state from the guy who is completely f***ed, who never wants to lose, so he has to throw a tantrum.”
Colbert didn’t get into any trouble from Viacom, MTV, Comedy Central or Van Toffler over the show. Comedy Central actually read the episode’s script before it aired and approved it. The network even gave him a pat on the back for a job well done on the episode.
In the interview with Mercurio, Colbert also revealed that Robin Thicke–who filled in for Daft Punk on The Colbert Report in a taped, not live, segment–will also be playing the VMAs, but for some reason MTV decided to approve his last-minute performance on the late night show (below). Go figure.
Listen to the full interview with Colbert here.