Stephen Colbert was ready to deliver a good laugh.
The Colbert Report host was preparing to work around Daft Punk's difficult demands as guests on the show—they reportedly wouldn't speak or perform—but regardless of his agreement to take that challenge, the appearance never happened.
And he had the perfect joke to tell them, too.
However, despite the scheduled appearance falling through, Colbert was still able to deliver the zinger during a candid interview on Paul Mercurio's podcast.
"They said, 'Do you want to cancel?' I said, 'No, this is an interesting challenge,'" Colbert first explained, noting that he originally intended to perform a six-minute monologue while the musical duo nodded next to him. Colbert also said he tried to enlist their manager for a speaking appearance, and that's when things got punny.
"I wish we could have done this joke. It was: 'Paul [Hahn, their 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.'"
One day before Daft Punk was supposed to arrive in New York to appear on the Comedy Central show, Colbert became aware of their previously unannounced Video Music Awards performance and was unsure if MTV Networks would agree to have them on both programs. Ultimately, a deal was not arranged, and hours before his show, Colbert found himself without a guest.
"I would say, I understand that the VMAs have got their own rules, and Daft Punk, that's a big important thing to have done," Colbert said, "but I'm the guy who's completely screwed here. I don't have a show tonight."
But VMAs executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic told The Hollywood Reporter that it was the band and their management who decided not to appear on The Colbert Report.
"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," he 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 entire interview below!