Stephen Colbert Was Leaving ‘The Colbert Report’ Whether David Letterman Retired or Not
The news that Stephen Colbert was going to retire from hosting The Colbert Report after a decade of endearing silliness and scathing satire so he could take over The Late Show from David Letterman sent many comedy fans reeling. How could one of the smartest guys in show business give up on one of the most indelible characters of the 21st century so he could chat with celebrities on CBS? It turns out that this was actually the best case scenario, as Colbert has now revealed that he was going to end The Colbert Report whether he got the new late night gig or not.
Colbert revealed this tidbit on the latest episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the web series where comedians get coffee. In cars. And share stories about their lives and careers:
I was ready to stop. I was going to stop whether or not [I got the new job] — the Letterman thing fell into my lap.
As for why Colbert was ready to stop, Vulture points to an interview from Judd Apatow’s new book of conversations with comedians, Sick in the Head. It seems that Colbert had lost any lingering respect for the news pundits he so gleefully mocked and his faux-conservative blowhard character was no longer any fun to play:
I play a character on my show, and he’s modeled on punditry, and I no longer respect my model. That’s my problem ... I don’t know if I could have done it much longer, because you have to be invested in your model. And I really am not. I can’t watch that stuff anymore.
We get it. As great (and genuinely important) as Colbert’s work on The Colbert Report was, it must be depressing to wallow in that sort of material, even if you’re making fun of it. After 10 years of playing a mean-spirited, self-centered jerk, The Late Show must have felt like an opportunity to truly be himself on television for the first time in ages. When he’s not playing a fake news anchor, Colbert is a performer bursting with pure joy and enthusiasm. It will be tough to fill David Letterman’s shoes, but the change of pace must feel invigorating.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert will begin on September 8, 2015.