Stephen Colbert Wonders What's Actually Tougher Than "Fire & Fury"

by Alex Gladu
'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert'

After North Korea threatened the United States with a missile attack on the island territory of Guam, President Trump promised "fire and fury like the world has never seen." Despite the fierce rhetoric, Trump has not given any specific details about what his administration's approach to countering North Korea looks like. As a result, on Thursday, Stephen Colbert questioned Trump's "fire and fury" statement in his ever-comedic way.

During his Late Show monologue on Thursday night, Colbert seemed to criticize Trump's inflammatory language. "A firm response is necessary," he said. "But maybe not 'fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.'"

After showing a clip of Trump calling for even tougher language, Colbert's critiques advanced. He continued, “What is tougher than ‘fire and fury'? Lava and rage? A paper cut and a lemon?” Colbert seems concerned for Americans' security after Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un have gone back and forth with competing threats. He credited North Korea with starting the saga by testing various missiles, but he certainly doesn't see Trump ending it anytime soon. Said Colbert:

I'd like to go on the record, I do not want the Earth to blow up. That's where my house is, and I'm going to have a vacation there in a couple weeks.

Perhaps the most poignant message from Colbert's Thursday night monologue was the lack of specificity in Trump's own message. When asked by reporters to explain what "fire and fury" actually means in terms of next steps, Trump said, "You'll see." As Colbert seemed to note, that's considerably vague for a world leader who is promising to retaliate against a violent attack.

"We’ll see?" Colbert said. "I know we’ll see, but it might be the last thing we see!"

Thursday’s show wasn’t the first time that Colbert criticized Trump’s rhetoric toward North Korea. When Trump first made his “fire and fury” remarks, Colbert responded sarcastically. He called Trump’s statement a “moment of pure statesmanship”:

Thankfully, faced with the greatest challenge of his presidency, Donald Trump stepped up, and in a moment of pure statesmanship, de-escalated the rhetoric and brought calm to our worried nation.

As he does, Colbert managed to keep his Thursday night show mostly lighthearted and fun, despite the talk of North Korea. That’s good for American viewers, who may be growing increasingly concerned with the threats coming from Kim Jong-un's regime. While President Trump's rhetoric continues to convey a sense of urgency, Colbert offered a brutally honest perspective in a lighthearted and entertaining package.