By now, everybody on the Internet has seen the video of Stephen Colbert’s star-laden dance to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” widely believed to be the song of the summer. But that’s not the only gift we were supposed to receive. Daft Punk had to bail on their appearance on the show (HOW GREAT WOULD THAT PUBLIC APPEARANCE HAVE BEEN.) thanks to some obnoxious contractual rules regarding televised performances and exclusivity and blah blah blah.
A conversation between comedian Paul Mecurio and Colbert on the former’s podcast now reveals what actually went down. Colbert’s people approached Daft Punk to perform on the show during the summer six weeks back because the two dudes are fans of the program. They were way in.
After a week, the robots said they didn’t want to be interviewed because they don’t talk. But Colbert was excited by the challenge of having the duo on the show without a conversation—it was “get-around-able,” in Colbert’s estimation.
Another week went by, and Colbert discovered they wouldn’t perform their song on the air. “I’m beginning to see why they don’t do TV,” Colbert opined. But he still liked the challenge of having Daft Punk on the show even though they wouldn’t be speaking or performing.
He came up with a new plan: create a lengthy performance where he’s trying to convince Daft Punk to do their song because, “It’s a brain worm.” Who immediately agreed to play along? Jeff Bridges (who apparently just said, “Yeah man!” to Colbert’s people–read that in the voice of The Dude if you didn’t already). And Henry Kissinger. This is not surprising to me: I had my suspicions that Kissinger was a secret fan of French House. Or whatever genre you might label Daft Punk.
And, as you likely know, a slew of other folks agreed to participate in the project. I must draw attention in particular to Bryan Cranston’s epic disco roller skating performance, which is undoubtedly a spoiler for the end of Breaking Bad (my theory is that Walter White goes back in time to the 1970s to corner the meth market before it really takes off and moonlights as an entertainer as a cover—prove me wrong, AMC).
In the meantime, Robin Thicke agreed to perform on the show in Daft Punk’s place, but he was slated to perform at the VMAs. That’s a big no-no for performing in another televised capacity, apparently, thanks to some exclusive performance rights business that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, ultimately, no matter: a few well-placed calls from the management solved the problem. Thicke could come on.
Colbert and his crew found out a day before the Daft Punk show that the duo were—you guessed it—also slated to perform on the VMAs. But it worked out with Thicke, so Colbert was confident it would work out with Daft Punk. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. No Daft Punk on Colbert.
So what I will argue is the viral video of the summer was conceived in a moment when Daft Punk would have been on the show. Ultimately, I think we got a pretty good deal out of a cruddy situation. You can listen to the entire episode of The Paul Mecurio Show below.