Last night's monologue wasn't the big attraction, nor was Stephen Colbert in his first Late Show in the Ed Sullivan Theater since March 2020. "The cheers were the point," says James Poniewozik. "A crowd of people shoulder to shoulder, masks optional, hooting and whooping and publicly expelling aerosols from their lungs in precisely the way that, for over a year, we had been trained not to, on pain of possible death. In-person TV has been creeping back in little ways across the dial. On NBC, Jimmy Fallon brought back a full audience, with masks, last week. But because Colbert’s The Late Show had the biggest audience in late night when it went remote (and rebranded itself A Late Show), its reappearance feels like more of a signal event. If it’s back, maybe the rest of life is, too. There was something of a surviving-your-own-funeral aspect to the reunion. Colbert hadn’t gone anywhere, TV-wise. But it’s one thing to host the biggest show in late night in front of an adoring crowd and another to do it from your bathtub. Even the most aloof of late-night hosts — Johnny Carson and David Letterman, in their own ways — rely on the aggregate energy of the crowd. And Colbert is not an aloof performer. Having him and his crowd renew their vows recalled past late-night reunions, like when Letterman returned to the air after heart surgery. Except that this time, all of us had the health crisis." ALSO: Jon Stewart’s belief that the lab leak theory speaks to a broader “problem with science” is, frankly, birdbrained.