Stephen Colbert is officially set to take over as host of The Late Show next Tuesday. And one week before he starts his new gig, he’s finally coming clean about why he left his last one.
For a new cover story in TIME Magazine , Colbert admitted that he started feeling pigeonholed with his character on The Colbert Report. He said he began feeling like we perceived him as more of a politician than a comedian.
“It became very hard to watch punditry of any kind, of whatever political stripe. I wouldn’t want anybody to mistake my comedy for engagement in punditry itself. And to change that expectation from an audience, or to change that need for me to be steeped in cable news and punditry, I had to actually leave. I had to change.“
He also admitted that putting on his character for The Report started to feel like an effort too.
“Toward the end of the last show, it was an act of discipline for me to continue to do the character. The discipline was not even just keeping the character’s point of view in mind or his agenda or a bible of his views, but there was also a need to not let people in, not let people see back stage—not necessarily know who I am so that the character can be the strongest suggestion in their mind when I do the show. If I let them know too much about me or our process, then I would be picking the character’s chicken. I don’t want to put so much light behind that particular stained glass or else he would fade completely.”
It turns out that our favourite bespectacled late night host also frequently broke character on The Colbert Report. We just didn’t know it.
“People said, ‘Oh, you never broke” or “You rarely broke.’ That’s because we always took it out, because part of the character was he wasn’t a f—up,” he said. “He was absolutely always on point. Win. Get over. Stay sharp. That was his attitude all the time, and we had to reflect that in the production of the show. None of that is necessary anymore. Now I can be a comedian.”
It sounds like the new Late Show host is excited to show us who he really is. We can’t wait to meet him next week!
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert debuts September 8