Stephen Colbert: 'I Won't Be Doing the New Show in Character'

Stephen Colbert Time 100 Gala - P 2012
Getty Images

Stephen Colbert Time 100 Gala - P 2012

The comedian says that his faux conservative Comedy Central character won't travel to the "Late Show."

The surprise announcement that Stephen Colbert will take David Letterman’s late-night chair sometime in 2015 left open the exact format of the new program and whether he will do his mock conservative character or be himself.

Now Colbert has provided the answer in a statement released through his publicist: "I won't be doing the new show in character, so we'll all get to find out how much of him was me. I'm looking forward to it." 

That decision raises several questions. His Comedy Central show and national rise to fame have been based on the satirical character he created originally for The Daily Show and since expanded into a signature bit.

STORY: Why Stephen Colbert Is the Perfect David Letterman Replacement 

In an October 2012 interview on the NBC's Meet the Press, Colbert said what he does is satire. He described his faux-conservative character as an "active idiot," who even warns his guests in advance that he will act "willfully ignorant of what you care about."

In that interview, Colbert explained that "satire is parody with a point." He said he is not a newsman any more than he is a politician. "I falsely reconstruct the news," he added, "to make a point of the absurdity."

Colbert has a background in improvisational comedy and has proven adept as a comedian as well as an author and musical maestro, but all personas were done in character.

So what can viewers expect from Colbert out of character? The current early speculation is that his new program will be more of a variety show with some of the comedic and political elements that have thrust him onto the national stage.

However, what shape that will take – with or without a satirical approach – and whether it will still appeal to the young men and others who turned to him because of cynicism about how media presents the news, is unclear.