Prepare to say goodbye to “Stephen Colbert” and hello to Stephen Colbert, America, now that CBS has wasted no time whatsoever in naming “The Colbert Report” star as David Letterman's successor to host “The Late Show.”
From the minute Dave announced his impending retirement during the taping of last Thursday's monologue, Colbert seemed the obvious frontrunner. He's in the CBS/Viacom family, he's advanced as far as he can go at Comedy Central so long as Jon Stewart doesn't want to leave “The Daily Show,” and he's a talented, smart, likable individual who's more complicated than the character he plays in his nightly performance art on “Colbert Report.”
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman”s show has been a highlight of my career,” Colbert said in a statement. “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.”
As a fan of Colbert, I'm happy he's got a higher-profile job that will almost certainly pay him more money. (The deal is for five years, with additional details about where his “Late Show” will be produced, and who will produce it, to come down the road.) But I'm also disappointed to be losing the fictional Colbert, especially if his “Late Show” winds up being similar to Dave's “Late Show,” and Conan's various shows, Fallon's “Tonight,” Jimmy Kimmel's show, etc. Though I like most of the men – and once Chelsea Handler leaves “Lately,” they'll all be men, and all but Arsenio will be white – hosting these shows, I find the format played out, will watch the viral videos the next day on YouTube but otherwise stick to the Stewart/Colbert tandem to end my TV viewing day.
Lots of people can successfully host “Late Show.” Very few could pull off the high-wire act Colbert's been doing for close to a decade. I expect he'll be an excellent host, but I fear it'll also be a waste of his talent.
What does everybody else think? You excited for Colbert to get a promotion, or would you rather he stayed doing what he does so well? Is anyone in any way shocked that another middle-aged white guy got the gig? And whom would you like to see succeed Colbert at 11:30 on Comedy Central?