New “Late Show” Host: Stephen Colbert Replacing David Letterman

April 14, 2014


It’s been a fantastic ten years for Stephen Colbert, whose smash-hit satirical comedy show “The Colbert Report” has steadily dominated the rates compared to its predecessor “The Daily Show.”

Even better, however, Colbert has officially been tabbed to replace David Letterman when Letterman retires from CBS’ “The Late Show” in 2015.

Although there’s still plenty of papers to be signed and legal issues to go through, it appears that Colbert will host his first-ever network television show come next year. What does this news entail?

From humble origins

Stephen Colbert originally began his career in comedy working as a writer for “Saturday Night Live” on NBC, where he occasionally lent his talents acting in sketches.

Perhaps most noticeably, he voiced the character of Ace on the SNL short animated sketch “The Ambiguously Gay Duo”, about two superheroes who constantly crossed the line of sexual orientation.

After leaving SNL, he was hired on Comedy Central to play the loving, but strict school principal on the show “Strangers With Candy.”

In 1997, he joined the cast of “The Daily Show,” which achieved recognition around the television world when Jon Stewart took over as lead anchor and the comedic report of the two helped the show gain a much larger following.

For nearly ten years he acted as a satirical correspondent who frequently goofed off on the job, faked interviews, and verbally abused the host.

He proved to be such a magnetic character that Comedy Central gave him the reigns for his own comedy show in 2007, calling it “The Colbert Report,” a parody of cable news shows like the “O’Reilly Factor.”

During his time as host of “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert won no less than two Emmys, two Television Critics awards, and two Satellite Awards.


Letterman’s show

CBS never planned to cancel Letterman’s “Late Show,” nor axe him as host. Rather, it was Dave himself who decided to step down after more than two decades behind the desk.

Letterman originally won the bid to host CBS’ main talk show after being offered the NBC “Late Night” gig; he spurned NBC to go to CBS, while NBC opted to give Conan O’Brien the job after the vacuum. For four thousand episodes Letterman flexed his comedic muscles, most famously with his biting top-10 lists and his witty dialogue with bandleader Paul Shaffer.

During Letterman’s time at CBS, his show often outdrew his main competition, NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and Letterman captured six Emmy awards over his tenure as host. Letterman, however, decided that he would rather go out on top than stretch his time on the show to unfunny lengths, and announced his retirement on April 3rd.

The hunt for new hosts

As soon as Letterman gave note that he would be retiring, a firestorm of rumor hit the Internet as everyone suggested potential replacements for the job. Colbert’s name floated around early and often, though many people wondered whether or not he would be successful without playing his satirical character.

Other late-night talk show hosts got an earful of speculation, most notably Conan O’Brien, who had an extremely messy falling-out with NBC that resulted in the network removing him from the Tonight Show gig and paying him over $50 million to move on.

Still, others wondered if CBS might make the move to have a woman take over the first late-night talk show, with names like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler being tossed about. Ultimately, however, CBS announced it would be Colbert.

Colbert’s response

Claiming to be humbled by the decision, Colbert noted that he had always dreamed of hosting his own talk show on a major network.

He also noted that he had been explicitly told by CBS that he would need to drop the character actor that he portrayed on his Comedy Central special in order to appeal to CBS’ greater audience.

Colbert noted that it would prove a challenge that he believed himself equal to, indicating his respect for Letterman and the accomplishments of the show. He also added a jab at the retiring host, saying that he would have to file down the gap in between his teeth.