Stephen Colbert: 5 little-known facts about The Late Show’s new host

8 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Colbert Versus the Jimmys.

Even during his early days on The Daily Show, Colbert’s faux news segments were often delivered through a character similar to the ill-informed, narcissistic blowhard he inhabited for nine years as the frontman of The Colbert Report. KDKA’s Susan Koeppen and Ken Rice got the chance to visit with the new guy, Stephen Colbert, and brought a few gifts, including a Terrible Towel and a Steelers jersey.

NEW YORK ( — The “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” makes its debut Tuesday night and on the eve of the premiere, the comedian opened up about his new gig.The actor, comedian and – since 2005 — faux bloviator of Comedy Central’s TheColbert Report — on Tuesday begins his dream job, replacing David Letterman as the host of CBS’s Late Show (11:35 p.m.

ET/PT). “It gives me everything I want,” he says in an interview. “I like meeting the guests, I like the grind, I like a live audience, I love to hear the laughter. But here are five lesser-known facts about his life and career he’s revealed so far: Colbert grew up in Charleston, S.C., the youngest of 11 children. Besides, of course, this: “People in Pittsburgh are intelligent and physically attractive,” said Colbert with a wink. “Now, ask your questions.” Koeppen: “If served a salad topped with French fries, do you a) send it back because there must be some sort of mistake; b) remove the fries and eat them separately; or c) respect fries as a vegetable, and eat them and enjoy.” “I got one, one out of three,” said Colbert. “One out of three, that’s the standard for Channel 2! Before Letterman’s final show in May, Colbert asked the late-night legend for advice. “I said: ‘Do you mind me asking these questions?’ And he said: ‘No. Sixty percent of our news, we’re not sure about!” But we discovered that long before that, he first became a familiar face to the people of… Omaha?

I was very proud of the show we had done, we’d had some success with it. (But) if I was going to do another live show in front of an audience, taking over for Dave was the only thing that had a laurel wreath on it.” He even spent time with Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Dave showed him how to use a freight elevator to get from the show’s offices to the stage. “I was never a standup, I’m an improviser, and so for me the joy is, what’s going to happen between the two of us for the next six or eight minutes? That’s right, in a commercial for First Tier Bank of Nebraska. “That’s the only commercial I think I got out of 11 years in Chicago,” said Colbert. “There are lot of ad agencies in Chicago, and I was a young actor in Chicago. Colbert barely graduated high school, and, as he recently told GQ, later found his way into improv theatre where one director advised young comics to “learn to love the bomb.” Colbert knows hobbits and dragons like most people know their phone number. While the number of people who watch the show live at 11:30 at night still matters, the way the power and influence in late night is truly measured—and really, the way all media is measured anymore—is through your shares and click-throughs of easily consumable content.

Jon didn’t like it.” Colbert plans an eclectic mix of “scientists, newsmakers, politicians, intellectuals, musicians that I love” and the usual assortment of movie and TV stars promoting projects. Sure, the Jimmys have to fill an hour of content on a weeknight, but they do it in bite-size portions, more easily to be nibbled on in five-minute segments the next morning.

But one very important question will linger for a while: When CBS announced its “Late Show” succession plan in April 2014, Jimmy Fallon’s stint as host of “The Tonight Show” was not even 2 months old. George Clooney and Jeb Bush are booked for Tuesday’s extended opener; other guests due this week and next range from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to the CEOs of Uber and Tesla to Scarlett Johansson, Jake Gyllenhaal and Lupita Nyong’o. He and actor James Franco, a fellow fan, have thrown down on Tolkien trivia twice on air (Franco lost by a mile, both times) and in 2013 Colbert put an insanely esoteric question to director Peter Jackson during a live video chat in advance of the second Hobbit movie, in which Colbert made a cameo appearance. And that was a very nice way of him sort of handing me the keys,” Colbert said. “That first week or so, maybe even the first couple of weeks, you’ve had all this time to prepare and put things in the can, and it really is an opportunity to put your best foot forward,” said Brian Lowry, columnist for Variety magazine.

But, as he demonstrated during an interview with his Late Show predecessor David Letterman, he can now tuck that ear inside itself, and pop it free at will. Income had been declining in recent years, along with the audience, but with the arrival of the new generation of hosts, advertisers are buying again. You’ve let the popular kids appropriate the very art form that helped you deal.” He later deleted his Tweets and was chided by O’Brien for them. The notion of a “talk show”—where someone (almost always a white man) tells some jokes and interviews a celebrity and introduces a band and then says good night to all the viewers gathered around a television set to watch him together—is so hopelessly outdated that it deserved to be overthrown.

Part of the reason for the media’s fascination with Colbert’s “Late Show” plan is that on “The Colbert Report,” he played a character, an insufferable right-wing pundit who held forth on the political news of the day with a comic mixture of arrogance and inaccuracy. Coupled with the desirable demographics of its audience – young, well-educated and well-to-do – it made money for Comedy Central. “I would be surprised if CBS could be satisfied with a smaller but upmarket audience,” McCall said. “Networks need volume. A smaller audience, no matter how upscale, creates an image problem for the network.” Dixon predicts that “Colbert will shed his former persona with ease.” He “has already proven that … his wit remains intact, and his satirical instincts sharp.” Reports from audience members at recent live tests of “The Late Show” support that hypothesis.

But it’s undeniable that he’s the last best hope for anyone who wants a break from the tyranny of the Jimmys and the Shareable Clip of Celebrities Being Just Like Us. As we’ve noted before, Colbert’s strength as a performer isn’t just his comedic dexterity; it’s the fundamental maturity and kindness of the Sunday school teacher he is, at his core, that can’t help but come out on stage. After all, Colbert has a history of getting politicians from both sides of the aisle to loosen up. (In some very shareable clips, by the way.) What started with Better Know a District—a segment so popular that Rahm Emanuel once requested Democrats on the Hill not appear on it, an edict later rescinded by Nancy Pelosi—eventually led to presidential candidates past and present regularly appearing on the show. Kerry is a little confused—it’s clear he’s never watched the show before and doesn’t understand the Colbert character—but just that little green room conversation led to one of the most enjoyable interviews Kerry has ever given.

Colbert’s show was always less partisan than Jon Stewart’s, even filtered through Colbert’s character, and at its center was always its big heart.

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