BREAKING: Stephen Colbert chosen to replace David Letterman

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.

colbert-holland-tulipsLetterman started “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1982, then moved his show from NBC to CBS in 1993.  The show then became “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

George W. Bush, supremely ticked off by Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

George W. Bush, supremely ticked off by Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. You can find that video at the bottom of this story. Colbert told Oprah that you can’t hear the audience laughing because of the mics – they actually really enjoyed it.

“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.

Stephen Colbert on David Letterman's show in 2010.

Stephen Colbert on David Letterman’s show in 2010.

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).

Oh, and some quick advice for Suey “Whiteness will always be the enemy” Park, the creator of the #cancelcolbert brouahaha: Be careful what you wish for.

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:

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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32 Responses to “BREAKING: Stephen Colbert chosen to replace David Letterman”

  1. 1jetpackangel says:

    Where do we go to start that petition?

  2. cole3244 says:

    great news for colbert but for the died in the wool lefties like me this is sad on a personal basis and also a political one.

    if colbert is able to bring his liberal thinking over to the networks that will be fantastic but will the powers that be neuter him and make him just another one of the guys, i hope for the former but my mind says the latter.

    i guess having him farther up the ladder of success can’t be all bad no matter how the late night gig turns out.

    the big question is who replaces him on the report, i’m betting a fav choice and a home run here.

    ps – if the righties are up in arms i’m all in.

  3. Louis says:

    That would be a really great choice. Samantha, are you there?

  4. Ooh, Samantha Bee taking over Colbert would be fun, I love her.

  5. He just got a much bigger audience. I think this was his reward :) Suey probably helped immensely, by showing the network how large and devoted Colbert’s fan base really is.

  6. JP_Melle says:

    Letterman was never like Leno. Colbert will be true to himself, he just won’t be the satirical character he’s played during the run of his show/for the Daily Show.

  7. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    That’s nice, but I am going to miss the Colbert Report.

  8. fry1laurie says:

    I love Colbert as is, and he’ll have to become so middle-of-the-road (like Leno) that all of his edginess will disappear. That is my fear (fingers cross he can overcome).

  9. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Conservatives will have their panties in a wad. This is good.

  10. Will says:

    Does this mean Suey has won?

  11. heimaey says:


  12. Houndentenor says:

    She obviously didn’t hurt. LOL. Anyone familiar with Colbert could only laugh at the ridiculous criticisms of him. Racist? No. He’s mocking racism. Perhaps some people like Michelle Malkin just aren’t bright enough to get what he’s doing. There’s a long tradition of this kind of performance in the US. It’s very hard to pull off and Colbert does it as well as anyone ever did.

  13. Houndentenor says:

    I think sometimes it’s not a matter of getting the guests as being stuck with whoever the corporate owners of the network want to push at the moment.

  14. Houndentenor says:

    When I saw the list of people being considered I thought Colbert was the best choice, but also the least likely. I think this is a bold move and one I hope pays off well for them. Now, can I hope for the Samantha Bee Report to follow the Daily Show. Bee to me has nailed the local air-brained reporter who doesn’t really understand the story he or she is covering as well as Colbert has nailed O’Reilly.

  15. Indigo says:

    See? I don’t pay much attention to all that.

  16. perljammer says:

    The press release I read said no, he will not stay “in character” (i.e., the Colbert Report character) on Late Night.

  17. The_Fixer says:

    Great choice! Good to know that I will still have CBS as one of my late-night options.

    Colbert is brilliant, a skilled interviewer and very funny in or out of character. Maintaining that schtick of his requires a very quick mind, a great knowledge of current events, and a keen sense of humor. I think he’ll do well – at least I hope he does. He’s been on a steady march upward since his days on The Daily Show. I am sure that he has already been on the phone with John Stewart thanking him for the opportunity to appear on that show.

    On a somewhat related note, I find myself watching any of the late-night shows (now that Leno is gone – his sense of humor didn’t appeal to me and I like Fallon) on any given night. It depends on the guests and the guest musical performers. Last night one of the shows had Lindsay Lohan as a guest. I am not a hater, but just don’t like watching her. So I skipped that one. Same with the music. I may stay with a show up until the musical guest comes on, and switch. People like me must drive the A.C. Nielsen company crazy. I wonder how many people out there watch the way I do?

    If Colbert can get the guests (and I think he can, he’s popular in Hollywood), then I think he’ll do well. Whether he can steal the biggest share of the audience from Fallon and the Tonight show is another matter. Will be interesting to see how this works out.

  18. jomicur says:

    I’m a fan of Craig Ferguson, and I’ve long thought he’s the smartest of the lot–by a wide margin. How many other talk hosts do jokes about Kierkegaard? (I never thought for a moment, though, that he’d work in the 11:30 slot, precisely because his humor is so smart, off the wall, and frequently really sarcastic.)

  19. BeccaM says:

    He’ll be great, but my wife and I will really, really miss his show.

  20. emjayay says:

    Actually Colbert might be an excellent replacement for Dave because Dave is really smart himself and always has a meta level or two extra going on that others like Leno or Carson did not.

  21. emjayay says:

    But Stewart does interviews as himself, serious and knowledgeable but skewing toward being funny much like a regular nighttime talk show host while obviously Colbert is doing a satiric version of a character whose opinions are not his own, adding a constant extra level of irony. After doing that shtick for a long time, I’m sure he’s thinking about the adjustment and figuring it out. It will be interesting to see the result. I’m sure he’s worried about it leaving him flat.

  22. Naja pallida says:

    Seems to me that the shtick often limits Colbert’s interview style. If he could just ask questions like a normal host, without playing a role, it could be much different.

  23. Naja pallida says:

    Jimmy Kimmel != Jimmy Fallon.

  24. Badgerite says:

    Excellent choice.

  25. Indigo says:

    Okay. I’ll have a little bit of a conflict because I’ve picked back up on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel who replaced that-other-guy who finally left and now that Letterman person who, I take it, is popular with some but boring to others among whom I count myself, is leaving eventually but not right away and Colbert will generate enough interest that I might have to tape one and watch the other or double screen it or maybe stream one program while watching the other or . . . just revert to my traditional practice and go to bed early. I tell you, staying up to watch Kimmel after years of shutting down at 10 pm is tough on this old guy’s beauty rest. In short, I’m glad Colbert’s got the job.

  26. bkmn says:

    Colbert is more intelligent than any of the talking heads that are currently anchors.

  27. I do wonder if suey helped, she may have. The added recently publicity. The fiercely loyal fans.

  28. I actually find him consistently funnier than Stewart, though Stewart might be better at interviews, it’s hard to say.

  29. heimaey says:

    I wonder if he will continue to play the conservative schitck.

  30. LanceThruster says:

    Good for him, sad for news analysis.

  31. BusyTimmy says:

    I was hoping for John Stewart.

  32. GarySFBCN says:

    Interesting selection. I’m guessing that the number crunchers in the demographic analysis unit at CBS are responsible for driving this decision.

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