It has been much more than a year because Stephen Colbert took over as host of CBS’ The Late Show, and he’s lastly feeling comfortable being himself and not a character.
Just before The Late Show, Colbert spent nine years playing the part of a self-essential blowhard on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. He tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that he initially shied away from discussing politics or current events on The Late Show in an work to differentiate himself from his Colbert persona.
“It took me almost half a year to realize … that you can have a extremely opinionated, very topical show as oneself and not basically fall back into the basket of The Colbert Report,” he says. “Now I have no qualms about getting sharp and satirical and very opinionated and saying whatever’s on my mind as quickly as I can.”
This fall, Colbert’s mind has been on the election. He’s been doing political comedy nearly every single evening, but do not expect him to be at his Late Show desk on election evening. Colbert’s Nov. 8 show will be pre-empted by CBS News coverage, so rather he’ll be hosting the Showtime special Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going To Clean Up This S***? He promises guest stars, unique political commercials, musical guests and, of course, election results.
On why he decided to end The Colbert Report
The concept of “truthiness” — that was the thesis statement for the complete show, that how you feel is more crucial than what the facts are, and that the truth that you really feel is right is much more critical than something that the information could help. … We embodied it satirically, though it is not genuinely a new thought. … But I didn’t want to play that game any longer. … I just could not take playing that character any longer. … I started to really feel like I was stumbling downhill with an armful of bottles and that I couldn’t really preserve up the discipline, since it took discipline to remind myself each and every day to be the character, never be your self. …
And so I decided a couple years prior to the show ended that I was going to finish the show. … It wasn’t because I did not like it any longer — I still liked it — but I just believed, I am not sure if I can actually hold this up with no hurting somebody. …
I believed maybe I would make some large mistake with the character due to the fact he would say terrible factors. And I got away with some of the terrible things he would say or do since it was all filtered through his mask, but if I did not preserve the mask, it would just be me becoming terrible.
On acquiring The Late Show supply
It fell out of the sky. It was completely no part of my plans when I decided to finish The Colbert Report. It was a comprehensive surprise to me. It hadn’t been an ambition of mine, and I had just been an enormous fan of [David Letterman] and so I had fantastic respect for what he had built. But when they called and said, “OK, how about you?” I was shocked. …
I adore a reside audience, I really like the grind of every single day and I adore the individuals I work with. And it gave me all the items that I loved, and that was not a difficult choice. … To know that I could continue that was the greatest draw, and I also could not feel of something soon after The Colbert Report that would look like a promotion other than taking more than for Dave.
On leaving his Colbert character behind and finding his genuine voice on The Late Show
There is a confessional aspect to wearing a mask, the exact same purpose why it really is easier to confess behind a screen to a priest than face to face. So the character was a ten-year confession, possibly indulging ego and appetite through the person of this character. Then you go onstage as yourself and you are accountable for every thing you say and there’s a all-natural inclination to pull your punch because you have to be accountable for what you are saying. You can not hide behind the mask. … It took me a small whilst to realize that the character was not in danger of re-emerging.
On the perform pace of The Late Show compared to The Colbert Report
We would speak about a single subject perhaps for a week, or we would believe about one notion that we might do three or 4 days from now, or maybe two weeks from now as we created the concept and how my character may place himself in that news story.
Now, it really is how quickly can you talk about every thing that occurred in the news or in common culture in the last 24 hours, and it’s significantly faster than we utilized to work.
The joke I’ve created is that we went from go-kart to NASCAR, with all the marketing stickers on the side of our vehicle, as well. But it is a various, a lot more quickly way of functioning than we utilised to. It is less essay it is much more like reportage with jokes than a columnist. I utilized be like a columnist and now I’m writing day-to-day headlines.
On how he handles the pressure of the job
You got to like the anxiety. … I don’t know how to attach a good feeling to tension and pressure, but there is 1. There’s a bulletproof feeling that comes more than you, and it is truly a pleasant one particular, and you kind of have to like that. …
To do one particular of these jobs you got to sort of love the flaming toboggan ride of it.
To do 1 of these jobs, you got to kind of adore the flaming toboggan ride of it. You got to like it due to the fact everybody else is in the toboggan with you. You are doing it collectively, that’s the joy. Everybody is performing it together and at the end of it you go, ‘Hey! We survived! Quite very good show! Let’s do it once more tomorrow.’
That’s it. It’s the movement forward, since it in no way stops. You gotta love the downhill hurtle. There’s no finish line. You got to just enjoy missing all those trees that you could’ve hit right now.