Stephen Colbert’s reaction to being called a “no-talent guy” by U.S. President Donald Trump? “He-he-he, yay.”
The Late Show host opened Thursday’s episode of the CBS late-night talker by responding to Trump’s criticism of him in an interview with TIME earlier this week. The president said the comedian lacked talent and, responding to Colbert’s controversial oral sex joke about Trump and Vladimir Putin on May 1, said, “what he says is filthy—and you have kids watching.”
In typical Trumpian fashion, the commander-in-chief also took credit for Colbert’s recent ratings bump saying “his show was dying” before the talk show host began “attacking me.” Colbert has been on a hot streak over the last few months, pulling in more total viewers than NBC’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
In his monologue Thursday, Colbert said: “Mr. Trump, there is a lot you don’t understand, but I never thought one of those things was showbusiness. Don’t you know I’ve been trying for a year to get you to say my name?”
“You were very restrained—admirably restrained. But now you did it,” he added before declaring: “I won. ”
Colbert gloated about the impact the president’s remarks about him would have on his public profile: “Oh, please, don’t make me trend on Twitter again,” he said sarcastically.
But the real zingers came in response to Trump’s claims that Colbert’s language was too adult for broadcast television and that Trump had saved the show’s ratings. (Not the first Trump has taken credit for ratings—see his own gloating about Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Celebrity Apprentice earlier in 2017.)
“But you’re not wrong. I do occasionally use adult language and I do it public, instead of in the privacy of an Access Hollywood bus,” Colbert said, referring to Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” comments from 2005 that leaked during the U.S. election race last year.
“That is dignified,” Colbert added.
Colbert ended the segment with a challenge to Trump: if the president really wants to harm Colbert’s ratings, he should quit the White House.
“Making jokes about you has been good for ratings. It’s almost as if the majority of Americans didn’t want you to be president,” he quipped. (Trump had a lower voter turnout than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.)
Colbert continued: “But, you know who’s got really bad ratings these days? You do. Terrible approval numbers. I hear they’re thinking about switching your time slot with Mike Pence.”
“Since all of my success is clearly based on talking about you, if you really want to take me down, there’s an obvious way: resign,” Colbert said to a roar of cheers from his audience.
Colbert offered a final shot, telling Trump: “If you did that, what would I talk about then? Except your resignation, because that’d be fun.”