A metaphorical moment ago, we were clinging to a picture of Stephen Colbert in a captain’s hat as our only proof of life, but now he’s everywhere — doing pushups, mocking Donald Trump, shaving his beard, hosting a podcast, and also a Michigan public access show. This is all par for the course considering the fact that Colbert has been off the air for almost seven months and that, with The Late Show about to premiere, the time has come to get people’s attention.
But while the action is predictable, the contents of these dispatches to Colbert Nation have been far from it. Colbert isn’t just reminding us that he exists, he’s reminding us why we care with these fun, clever, and weird “stunts.” He’s also shedding a little bit of light onto the question that has some comedy nerds a little bit nervous in the post-Letterman/soon-to-be-post-Stewart era: what kind of show will The Late Show with Stephen Colbert be when it debuts in September?
Here are a few theories and a few educated guesses based on Colbert’s scant appearances, podcasts, and videos.