Late-night television icon David Letterman announced his planned retirement from the Late Show on April 3. Immediately speculation started as to which personality would replace Letterman after his retirement.
There were even odds released in Las Vegas about Letterman’s possible replacements. Among the popular bets were Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, Chelsea Handler, Craig Ferguson, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Howard Stern, Tina Fey, Jay Leno and Alec Baldwin are just a few of the notable possibilities.
Originally, the Lariat was going to write an editorial endorsing Louis C.K. to replace the Letterman on the Late Show on CBS. However, on Thursday CBS officially announced that Stephen Colbert was the man tabbed to replace Letterman in 2015.
Colbert has been the host of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central since 2005 and was handpicked by CBS as Letterman’s successor. Colbert has already signed a five-year agreement with CBS.
It will be an interesting transition for Colbert to move from his bit as a conservative satirist to late-night talk show host, but Colbert will be up for the job.
With his brilliant, comical and insightful personality, being on the late night talk show format will finally allow the audience to get to know the real Stephen Colbert since the man is always in character for “The Colbert Report.”
Colbert has gotten into trouble in the past from some members of his audience for coloring in the gray zone as far as his jokes go, but this was all a part of his gig on Comedy Central.
On CBS, Colbert will have to play it straight, but because of his more than nine years of experience on Comedy Central, he is well equipped to take over the Late Show. He is the kind of television personality that has the potential to replace a legendary figure in late night television such as David Letterman.
Letterman has been on CBS since 1982. It’s always a difficult task to replace a legend. Colbert even did a bit in character on his “The Colbert Report” where he ironically poked fun at the person who had the unenviable chore of actually replacing Letterman.
Letterman has not nailed down a concrete date for his departure, and Colbert does not yet have a location or producers for his show when he replaces Letterman.
Clearly there are still a number of details that need to be ironed out, but Colbert has the charisma to replace and eventually exceed Letterman’s late night television personality.
If Colbert tried to fill Letterman’s shoes by acting like Letterman, he would almost certainly fail. The beauty of CBS’s selection of Colbert is how original, unique and enigmatic Colbert’s personality plays on television.
One key reason CBS selected Colbert is because he is already a hit with the younger generation. According to an article from Bloomberg Businessweek, the average age of late night television’s audience has risen annually from 1994 to 2014.
For the first quarter of 2013, The Colbert Report ranked first in ratings among 18- to 49-year –old viewers according to the Washington Post.
NBC made a major move by bringing in Jimmy Fallon to host “The Tonight Show,” and CBS has countered NBC’s late night youth movement by bringing in Colbert.
Colbert’s originality, enthusiastic young audience, and proven track record of humor make him a golden selection by CBS to replace late night legend David Letterman.