A Letter to Stephen Colbert About Last Night’s Sketch Making Fun of Milwaukee

Your “virtual tour” last night was low-hanging fruit, kind of like this letter we’re writing to you.


This is about last night.

I’m not writing you of my own volition. Frankly, I do not watch late night talk shows because I have an extremely active and vibrant social life (the stray cats in my backyard won’t feed themselves), and so I was not aware that on your show Monday, you ran a “virtual tour of Milwaukee” sketch. 

I became aware of this because on Tuesday, I was accosted by various colleagues and fellow Milwaukeeans complaining about the content of the sketch. They did not appreciate that Milwaukee, which just lost one of the biggest economic and cultural opportunities it’s ever had, was made the butt of a joke that I think we can both agree was not of the highest caliber. It had the ring of a quick google search (“Uh … fonzie statue, abandoned mall, breweries and brats. Sure, that’ll work. Welcome to Joke City. Population: this guy.”). The fruit hung low, and it was picked with the slipshod mediocrity of an under appreciated late night writer who has to crank out these damn bits every single freakin’ night on deadline.

But that’s show business, am I right?

I am. I am always right.

The main point the folks who asked me to write you wanted to get across was that we Milwaukeeans didn’t appreciate you kicking us while we’re down. It feels a little like Joe Biden uppercut us square in the gut, and then while we were struggling to get up again, you came along and farted right in our faces and then ran away.

But listen, I’m honestly not as bothered by the jokes as the people who asked me to write this letter. You and me, we’re actually pretty alike. You host a television show. I own a television. You’re a multimillionaire. I recently bought a fresh pair of underwear. You’re a comedian. I once fell into a fountain at the mall, and all the children laughed at me. So I feel like I can relate to you fella-to-fella.

Jokes are jokes, even if they’re kinda lazy. If you can’t laugh at yourself (or your city) you’re probably a pretty miserable person. And Milwaukee has always been able to laugh at itself. I mean, we seriously did put up that Bronze Fonz statue. 



P.S. Please see the attached screenplay: Milwaukee Mayhem. It stars you and Steve Carrell as private detectives investigating the theft of a certain statue. You’ll love it. My screenwriting tutor told me it was, and I quote, “Formatted correctly.” Now I just need a couple million in financing to make this happen — I have Venmo.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.