Stephen Colbert presided genially over CBS’s Television Critics Association press conference in Los Angeles on Monday that served as a preview of what his Late Show will be like when he premieres the new version on Sept 8. More than anything, Colbert is eager to get started. We knew George Clooney would be his first guest; Colbert said Kendrick Lamar would be the first musical guest
“I want to do Donald Trump jokes so badly,” he said. “Right now, I’m just dry-Trumping… I hope he takes his vitamins, and stays healthy. Every night I light a candle that he stays in the race, and that no one puts that candle near his hair.”
Asked for the umpteenth time whether he was going to drop his Colbert Report character entirely, Colbert sighed and said, “Some of these questions feel like therapy: ‘Why did you wear a mask, who were you hiding from?’” He said, “I wore that character as lightly as a cap. The best moments, after a while, were the interview segments. I look forward to being sincerely interested in the guests we book.” He said those guests would include not just TV and movie stars but also “politicians of all stripes, intellectuals, writers, people in sports, anyone with something to say and can present him or herself in front of an audience.”
Colbert said he spent a little time with David Letterman, picking his brain about late night. “I went to Dave ten days before his show ended. He was really gracious. We had two bottles of water, and I asked him stuff. He said no one had ever asked him what I did, technical stuff about how the show is put together. I said, ‘Why hasn’t anyone asked this before?’ He said, ‘Who would know to ask, and who would care about the answers?’”
Colbert continued, “I got a chance to tell him what he did for comedians of my generation, to thank him for a few bits that I just plain stole from him, his not bowing to authorit,y and that anyone was too good to make fun of.”
Asked about his on-camera farewell to Jon Stewart during the latter’s final Daily Show, Colbert said it was difficult to keep Stewart onstage while Colbert praised and thanked him. “Afterward, when all the correspondents surrounded him and we were jumping up and down, you can’t hear it on the tape, but we were chanting, ‘We made him cry! We made him cry!’”
Now, though, Colbert said, he’s just “twitching” to perform. “I want to get in front of the audience and hear the laughter.”
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert premieres Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.