4 Roles That Prove Stephen Colbert Has the Range to Be a Hit on ‘Late Show’

He’s not just a one-note satirist

Last Updated: August 4, 2014 @ 10:27 AM

Stephen Colbert‘s shelf filled with trophies attests to his talent, but there is some concern among media pundits about the Comedy Central star’s ability to take over the “Late Show” franchise from retiring creator, David Letterman, due to the fact he rose to fame playing a character of a blowhard conservative pundit.

As Colbert said himself on Thursday, “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.”

Also read: Why Stephen Colbert Is the Perfect Choice for CBS

A quick review of his past roles, however, makes clear that Letterman’s Emmy winning replacement is more than just “Stephen Colbert,” as his friend Jon Stewart can attest.

1. The actual Stephen Colbert
While he is masterfully domineering and oblivious as “Stephen Colbert,” the actual Stephen Colbert is quite charming in interviews, as one can see in this conversation he had with Larry King. It’s a very meta interview, too, because Colbert actually discusses the very nature of his dual existence.

Also read: Colbert Controversy Now Just a Media Story as Supporters Drown Outrage

2. “Strangers With Candy”
This was a vehicle for Amy Sedaris, but the short-lived (and now of course cult classic) TV series was also a big step up in exposure for Colbert, who co-created/wrote/starred in the show. He played Chuck Noblet, a history teacher at Flatpoint High School, the oddball academic environment to which Sedaris’ character Jerri Blank returned at 46 years of age. He was married with a kid, but had a secret gay relationship with a dude named Geoffrey — a relationship that often led him to burst into tears during the show’s brief three season run.

He also ate a lot, as you can see:

Also read: The Most and Least Liked Late Night Talk Show Hosts: From Stephen Colbert to Arsenio Hall

3. “The Dana Carvey Show”
Now that he’s a giant star, it’s hard to believe that Colbert was ever part of something that wasn’t an instant success. Well, if you thought “Strangers With Candy” was short-lived, try “The Dana Carvey Show,” a before-its-time sketch program that ABC launched in 1996 and pulled almost immediately after.

The show lasted just eight episodes, and sort of torpedoed the career of its eponymous star, who had been so brilliant at “Saturday Night Live.” It also provided the first bit of real exposure to two of its co-stars and writers, future “Daily Show” compadres, Colbert and Steve Carell.

Also read: Jon Stewart Endorses Stephen Colbert as Letterman’s Successor: ‘He’s Got a Lot More He Can Show’

4. World’s biggest “Hobbit” fan
Okay, so this is on “Colbert Report,” but he clearly couldn’t stay in character for all that long while geeking out so super hard during “Hobbit Week” on his show in late 2012. His interviews with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were a show of unbridled enthusiasm, a quality Jimmy Fallon has certainly made work for him as the new “Tonight Show” host.


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