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After being a late night TV staple for over 30 years, David Letterman will no doubt be tied to that gig for as long as there are people around to talk about him. It hasn’t even been a full seven months since he left The Late Show, so there’s an understandable curiosity among fans over how Letterman feels about Stephen Colbert being behind the desk now, and how much he misses doing the show. And it might come as a bit of a shock to you, as it did him, that he’s pretty much fine with everything.
I’m surprised¬ — I can remember the first day that Stephen Colbert took over — put his [new] show on the air. I thought I would have some trouble, some emotional trouble, or some feeling of displacement, but I realized, hey, that’s not my problem anymore. And I have felt much better. It’s something for younger men and women to take on.
Beyond breathing and eating, there aren’t many things that I can think about doing for 33 years that wouldn’t get old and repetitive, although being a late night host is a good exception. I have to imagine that Letterman isn’t the kind of guy who absolutely needs to speak to dozens of people on a daily basis, so his current more peaceful schedule probably plays into him being happy that it’s Colbert front and center instead of him these days.
It’s definitely a good thing for Letterman’s own mental health that he can look at it as Colbert’s problem now, but I don’t think I’m being a monstrous fan for wanting him to feel at least a tinge of yearning to get back to it. I mean, if only to put himself out there as willing to return to The Late Show for a guest-host spot on one of Colbert’s off days. It’s okay that he doesn’t want that as his daily grind anymore, but I don’t want to go the rest of my life without seeing him throwing index cards around again in some capacity.
We know Colbert and Letterman are on friendly terms, which could also play into Letterman’s ease of mind these days. I wonder if he would feel differently had someone terrible taken his place and totally bombed as a new Late Night host. Although he might not even know about it, since Letterman also told Whitefish Review that he’s the guy that can’t stay up late to watch TV anymore.
Letterman is probably right about late night being a younger man’s game now. Everyone on the air these days is on mostly good terms, while we may never see true peace between Letterman and Jay Leno in their lifetimes. Not that it needs to happen.
So Colbert may not be doing wonderful in the ratings, but at least he doesn’t have to worry about Letterman returning to try and steal the job back. Check out The Late Show every weeknight on CBS.