Last week, robot DJ sensations Daft Punk canceled on Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report," leading to a viral replacement video of stars dancing to "Get Lucky" and some very public fallout with the band. On Tuesday, Colbert appeared on “The Paul Mercurio Show” to shed a little more light on Daft Punk’s cancellation. Among the revelations: Daft Punk was extremely difficult to work with from day one, and that star-studded "Get Lucky" video wasn't filmed in just two days after all.
Colbert recounts that booking Daft Punk was always a huge hassle for the show. Soon after their appearance was confirmed, Daft Punk’s manager told Colbert that the Parisian musicians refused to be interviewed, as their entire persona is that the two are a pair of mute robots. Colbert was undeterred, deciding to replace the interview with a hyper-pretentious six-minute monologue on “Random Access Memories’” musical pedigree while Daft Punk simply sat silently and nodded.
After finding a workaround to Daft Punk’s no-speaking rule, Colbert was presented with another huge challenge. Daft Punk now refused to perform their hit single “Get Lucky.” Still, Colbert decided to roll with the punches and fly Daft Punk from Paris to New York on the show’s dime.
Finally, Colbert figured out the perfect way to incorporate Daft Punk into the show: he filmed a star-studded tribute video to “Get Lucky.” At the same time, Colbert arranged for a live set with Robin Thicke in order to fulfill a contractual obligation from “Colbert Report” sponsor Hyundai.
Just hours before they were set to perform, Daft Punk dropped out of “The Colbert Report” in favor of appearing on the MTV Video Music Awards, sending the entire production staff into a frenzy to rewrite the episode. Tons of material was scrapped in order to accommodate Daft Punk’s surprise disappearance.
"I wish we could have done this joke. It was: 'Paul [Hahn, Daft Punk’s manager], 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,'" Colbert explained.
On the night of the show, Colbert ended up scraping together a performance explaining Daft Punk’s absence and tearing into MTV president Van Toffler. Robin Thicke performed a replacement set, and Colbert’s “Get Lucky” video ended up airing, but in a vastly different context than they were originally intended.
Despite all the controversy that came from Colbert criticizing MTV (owned by Viacom, which also owns “Colbert Report” parent channel Comedy Central), he says he never got in trouble for his heated statements, probably because they made great television.
"All I’ve gotten from Comedy Central was: 'That was great,'" Colbert said.
In response to Colbert’s statements, VMA executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic stated to the Hollywood Reporter that it was Daft Punk’s decision to cancel on “The Colbert Report,” not MTV’s.
"We don't put restrictions on anyone. I just think that we're talking to them about a moment and then things sort of change,” Ignjatovic said. “I would not describe that as MTV putting restrictions on people — it was up to that artist and their management what they wanted to do."
Listen to Colbert’s explanation of the Daft Punk incident on the “Paul Mercurio Show” below. Colbert’s statements begin around the 24:15 mark and continue for some 20 minutes.
And as a bonus, check out Colbert’s original attack on MTV below.