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Stephen Colbert took a tour of his future late-night home on Tuesday.
The Colbert Report host chatted with David Letterman during a visit to CBS’ Late Show, with Letterman giving his successor a particularly warm welcome during a relaxed conversation. Colbert shared several brushes he’d had with the TV veteran in his younger years — including being offered an internship with Letterman’s then-show (Late Night on NBC) in 1986, and submitting to write for Late Show in 1997.
Colbert, who will take over for Letterman next year, said he accompanied his college girlfriend to her interview for an internship at Late Night. While he was waiting in the hall, a staffer asked if he was there for an interview, and when Colbert said no, he was asked if he’d like to chat anyway. Colbert landed an internship and his girlfriend didn’t, which contributed to their eventual breakup.
Colbert ended up not taking the gig, prompting Letterman to ask why.
“Because you did not pay people. It is an expensive city,” Colbert said. “Dave I have to ask, the next job I’m taking here, it pays? Because I already signed the papers.”
In 1997, Colbert and writing partner Paul Dinello submitted a top 10 list to Letterman in hopes of landing a writing job. Colbert said he and Dinello dug up the list, Top 10 Cocktails for Santa, and the comedian read them on air. Letterman scolded Paul Shaffer for giving Colbert the official Top 10 opening sequence (“He doesn’t have the job yet!”), and Colbert admitted he wasn’t surprised in hindsight they never got a call from Letterman’s team. See two of the less-than polished entrees as evidence:
6: Scrooge Driver — grain alcohol and Regret
2: Jack Frost — equal parts Jack Daniels and snow (Seasonal)
“I’m going to do whatever you have done,” Colbert told Letterman earlier, adding “I’m thrilled.”
An uncharacteristically sincere Letterman appeared pleased Colbert would be taking over for him.
“I’m thrilled as well. Paul and I have been doing this a long, long time. They could have just as easily hired another boob like me. They didn’t, “Letterman said.
“Every boob is like a snowflake Dave. We’re all unique in our own way,” Colbert rejoined.
— Letterman (@Letterman) April 22, 2014
Letterman announced April 3 that he would retire from Late Show in 2015, and CBS quickly tapped Colbert as his replacement a week later. This is the first time Colbert has visited Late Show since being named Letterman’s successor. He’s previously appeared on the program 12 times, beginning in 2005.
On The Colbert Report April 10, the comedian paid tribute to Letterman after officially landing the gig.
“Dave has been on the air my entire adult life. Late Night debuted my first night in college,” Colbert said. “I learned more from watching Dave than going to my classes, especially the ones I did not go to because I stayed up till 1:30 watching Dave.”
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