Stephen Colbert has been chosen to replace David Letterman as the host of the Late Show when Letterman retires, expected next year.
Letterman surprised everyone by announcing last week that he would finally retire, after decades in TV comedy.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Colbert is quoted by Entertainment Weekly as saying. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
In terms of replacements, many had hoped that CBS might choose a comedian who was a woman or a person of color. Having said that, Colbert is a brilliant choice.
And we don’t know whether he was CBS’ first choice – did they approach Tina Fey first, and she declined? Other than Tina Fey, and Ellen, I’m not sure who would have been of the same caliber.
Others had raised the question of whether Colbert will be funny when not playing his conservative schtick, which it’s presumed he won’t be doing on The Late Show (though he could always do segments of it). Then again, Colbert simply is funny. And comedians don’t stop being funny when they change characters. Did the SNL folks stop being funny when they switched to another character? Not really. The top stars, Tina Fey, John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, all the historic favorites, all remained funny in everything they did.
Colbert is perhaps best known for his appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2006, when he skewered then-President George Bush. Colbert told Oprah (you can see his Oprah interview and his Correspondents’ Dinner videos below) that he had only done 50 shows or so when they called him about appearing. He wasn’t sure what to do, so he called Jon Stewart, who told him “do it.”
Colbert also says that while the video might sound like no one is laughing, they only had mics in the front row – so the people you hear not laughing are the President and his entourage. Hey says the audience really enjoyed it, but all you’ll hear is silence on the video because of the mic placement (also, Colbert admits he’s never watched the video – he seemed uncomfortable at the prospect).
What do you think? Good choice?
A few clips. Here’s Colbert on Letterman in 2010:
Colbert on Oprah, talking about his 2006 White House Corresondents’ Dinner speech where he really ticked off Bush:
And of course, Stephen Colbert doing the Correspondents’ Dinner: