Stephen Colbert: The truth behind that Daft Punk dance party

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Image Credit: Comedy Central

Assuming you’ve got two ears and a heart, chances are you loved The Colbert Report‘s star-studded “Get Lucky” dance party video — which Stephen Colbert debuted after explaining that Daft Punk’s skittish Frenchmen had abruptly canceled a scheduled appearance on his show.

But will you still appreciate the video after learning conclusively that it wasn’t cobbled together in just two days?

If the answer’s “no,” you might want to close this tab right about now. If “yes,” read on.

Almost immediately after Colbert’s exuberant clip premiered Aug. 6, Internet naysayers began speculating that Daft Punk’s “cancellation” was nothing more than an elaborate ruse. Their evidence: The same episode containing the “Get Lucky” montage also featured Robin Thicke performing his hit “Blurred Lines,” purportedly in Daft Punk’s place. But according to Billboard, Thicke’s performance was taped July 31, days before Daft Punk supposedly told Colbert they were out. Pitchfork picked up the story, wondering if the whole segment could have been a publicity stunt meant to promote the duo’s upcoming appearance on the VMAs. (Viacom owns both MTV and Comedy Central.)

Colbert addressed the Pitchfork post on his show Aug. 7, sarcastically “admitting” that the site was right all along. “You got me!” he said, adding that Colbert had flown in “the disco Decepticons from Paris” just to fool everyone — and “to help someone else’s show on another network a month from now.”

But that wasn’t his last word on the subject. During a recent out-of-character guest spot on comedian Paul Mercurio’s podcast, the Comedy Central host admitted that many of the Daft Punk show’s cameos and Robin Thicke’s performance were filmed in advance. He also explained that they had to be — because while Daft Punk had agreed to an appearance, they were refusing to perform or be interviewed on the show.

Colbert offered to accommodate the taciturn musicians by performing a six-minute monologue framed as interview questions. His team also put together a bit in which Daft Punk’s manager would act as interlocutor: “We had one joke, and I wish we could’ve done this joke… ‘Paul, can I ask you — how do I even know it’s them in the robot outfits? How do I even know it’s them?’ And he goes, ‘Stephen, if it wasn’t really them, they’d be doing the song.'”

Alas, nothing seemed to take; the “robots” weren’t happy with a script that focused so much on their lack of performance. And as Colbert continued trying to convince Daft Punk to give him something — anything — to work with, he also began filming celebrities dancing to “Get Lucky” as a fallback. (Hearing this shouldn’t be a surprise; EW noted on Aug. 2 that Colbert had been filming his guests grooving to the song.)

In the meantime, the show also shot Robin Thicke doing “Blurred Lines;” the plan was always to have Thicke “save the day” after Daft Punk’s silent appearance. And eventually, Daft Punk canceled altogether — leading to the show that ended up airing. (Fun fact: The dance party footage may have never seen the light of day if Henry Kissinger hadn’t said “yes” to Colbert.)

You’ll find the whole story behind DaftPunkGate below, starting around 24:15. Who knew this behind-the-scenes saga would end up being more enthralling than the “Get Lucky” video itself?


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