Stephen Colbert has a great affinity for New Zealand, a place he correctly said is “home to both Lorde and Lord of the Rings.” The longtime J.R.R. Tolkien fan cameoed in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern even offered Colbert citizenship in Hobbiton. That invitation became the basis for Late Show’s New Zealand week — and, as it turned out, a gloriously long prank set-up.
New Zealand, as Colbert is wont to remind people, is an island without any predatory mammals or snakes. So when the talkshow host disembarked his plane in the real-life Middle Earth with two cans a peanut brittle, even a small child could probably see the prank coming. It’s a testament to Colbert’s comical craftsmanship that he pulls it off.
Most of the segment, which aired on Monday night to kick off NZ week, was spent with Ardern, who picked Colbert up at the airport. During their subsequent interview, Colbert attempted to trap the Prime Minister with a classic bait-and-switch. Perhaps steeped in the treacherous world of politics long enough to spot an ambush when she sees one, Arden wisely turned him down. Unfortunately, in the very next scene, she inadvertently set up Lorde to take the fall.
Ah Lorde, so young, so naive. When Colbert extended his peanut brittle gift to the pop star, you could see just a flicker of doubt cross her face. But Prime Minister Ardern nodded. “I think it must be a tradition,” she muttered, “He offers it quite often.” And so Lorde opened the can.
The payoff, long expected, is somehow still funny. “You don’t have snakes!” yelled Colbert, a self-satisfied grin on his face. “The trip was worth it!”
Watch the whole extended clip below, which also includes wide-ranging conversations about gun control, animal ecology, kiwi politics, and more.
Going forward, Colbert will have plenty of time to plan even longer cons, since the most-watched man in late night just had his contract extended until 2023. As for Lorde, she recently delayed the release of her new album to mourn the passing of her dog. While we wait, we’ve been celebrating a lot of her previous work, as you can find Lorde on our Top 100 Albums, Top 100 Songs, Top 25 Pop Albums, and Top 25 Pop Songs of the 2010s lists.