In the wake of late night talk show legend David Letterman’s retirement announcement last week, CBS has already announced his replacement — comedian Stephen Colbert, whose fictional cable pundit persona, “Stephen Colbert,” has been mocking conservatives on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report since 2005. Colbert will take over as host of The Late Show when Letterman steps down in 2015.
Before debuting his conservative pundit character, which is meant to poke fun at FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly, Colbert was a regular on the liberal news satire program The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He also wrote and performed on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show, and was featured in the cult television series Strangers with Candy, a parody of 80s after-school specials.
Stewart supported online speculation that Colbert might be offered the gig, saying “he’s got a lot more he can show. He’s got some skill sets that are really applicable, interviewing-wise, but also he’s a really, really good actor and also an excellent improvisational comedian. He’s also got great writing skills. He’s got a lot of the different capacities. Being able to expand upon [those] would be exciting.”
Colbert will share a time slot with the Jimmies, The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel from Jimmy Kimmel Live! (the exclamation point is part of the name, because Kimmel is so! exciting!). Since Saturday Night Live alumnus Fallon took over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in February, he has held the number one ratings spot; Colbert and Kimmel may end up having to battle for second place. (Of course, if history is any indication, NBC will fire Fallon after seven months and bring back Leno.)
Letterman released this statement: “Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I’m very excited for him, and I’m flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses.”
Colbert is happy about his new role (his five-year contract with Comedy Central is about to expire), but cannot seem to avoid his trademark snark. “Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. 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.”
Sources: Entertainment Weekly | Associated Press | E! Online