Stephen Colbert becomes new host of Late Show

Emily Ruthven, Around Creek Editor

After 33 years and 6,028 episodes of late night interviews and comedy, David Letterman has retired from his desk on The Late Show. He announced his departure in 2014 and officially left the show May 20, 2015. Soon after, it was announced to the public that Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert would be assuming the position on September 8, 2015. Despite the audience’s sadness over his leaving, Letterman was sure to not let his last episode to end unhappily, so he carried on with the show as he normally would. He joked that once he retired, he would be the new face of Scientology. He made a sincere effort to go out with a laugh.

“Please be seated. I don’t know what to do. That’s it — stop it. Sit down. See, now what happens, we don’t have time for the ‘giving gifts to the audience’ segment,” said Letterman after a momentous standing ovation.

“You have to be willing to do everything you know how to do. Johnny Carson said it to Jay Leno, who said it to Conan O’Brien, who said it to me. These shows require everything you know how to do,” Letterman said.

Before The Late Show, Letterman had a background in writing material for popular 1975 sitcoms such as Good Times. He gained his big break to the public eye when he appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, who Letterman has referred to as his mentor. Letterman became a regular host on Carson’s show and due to his increase in popularity, NBC gave him a daytime show, The David Letterman Show. The show was a huge success, although it only aired for three short months. However, even in that short amount of time, Letterman was successful enough to be offered a late night show to call his own, following Johnny Carson’s show, much like Late Night with Seth Meyers follows directly behind Fallon’s The Tonight Show. After Johnny Carson retired from his role as host on The Tonight Show, NBC chose Jay Leno to become the new face of The Tonight Show, instead of Letterman. His displeasure with NBC’s decision soon caused him to leave NBC studios and switch to CBS for The Late Show in 1980 at the age of 35. Despite his losing to Jay Leno, Leslie Moonves, the CEO of the CBS corporation, thinks that Letterman still came out on top.

“I look at the world as two guys: Johnny Carson and David Letterman. Those are the two guys who really set up what late night is,” said Moonves.

Letterman, according to various celebrities who have been guests on The Late Show, did not ask the typical, cookie cutter questions that most hosts of his kind do.

“He doesn’t seem to be working for a network,” said Olivia Wilde.

“I’ve never met anyone who had the insatiable curiosity of David Letterman,” said The Late

Show producer Robert Morton. “It’s the reason he was the best talk-show host ever.”  Letterman’s show acted as the go-to television show for many Americans.

“David’s influence was phenomenal. Whenever there was something important going on in America, you turned on David Letterman. He was the conscience of America, he was a bit of a social commentator; he was our local curmudgeon,” said Moonves.

Time Magazine commented that on The Late Show, the world would finally see the  “real Stephen Colbert”. CBS News said, “Colbert will drop his Colbert Report persona when he takes the helm of The Late Show. Colbert starred on The Colbert Report for ten seasons, starting in 2005.

“The unexamined life can be extremely enjoyable, and who knows if I do know who I am. We’re going to see whether I do…We’re doing a series called ‘Who Am Me?’” said Colbert. Though he is changing, Colbert says he will not neglect his former self and former comedy, due to the fact that The Late Show will take all he knows how to do and more.

“You have to be willing to do everything you know how to do. Johnny Carson said it to Jay Leno, who said it to Conan O’Brien, who said it to me. These shows require everything you know how to do,” Colbert continued, “So the idea that there are things that we did over there that we wouldn’t do at the new space, I think, is an unrealistic approach to the need. And whether it fits is a discovery to be made, not a philosophical exercise to engage in before you do it. It’s athletic, not intellectual.”

Things on The Late Show will be different, for sure. However, CBS has faith in Colbert. Time Magazine said, “Although Colbert has big shoes to fill, he does have a smart plan for production.”