Why The Late Show With Stephen Colbert's Debut Episode Almost Didn't Air

Anytime a new show is coming together, there are usually some hiccups with production, but last night new late night host Stephen Colbert revealed his first episode of The Late Show very nearly never made it to the air. CBS came down to crunch time with editing the episode and getting it out to the people. Here’s how Colbert put the story:

A funny thing happened and I am telling you this is an absolutely true story. The show almost didn’t get on the air last night... First show, you want to do a lot and we had to cut some stuff we loved… It took us a while to cut the show down to time. And then when we tried to send it to the network so they could show it to you on air, the computers kept crashing. At 11:20—and again this actually happened—no one in the building could give me a guarantee for certain that the show was going to go on the air last night.

Even if everything does go perfectly, starting a new job that puts your face in front of millions of people is a lot of pressure. So, I’m sure Colbert was already amped up from taping the episode, which likely made him agitated when things started going poorly—especially when the clock reached the eleventh hour and the episode still wasn’t together, yet. Colbert likens the experience to having all of his organs shut down at once:

So, you can imagine how exciting that was for all of us. After CBS had plastered my face on nearly every flat surface on the planet… As I felt the oxygen begin to drain from my brain and all my organs shutting down I thought, ‘If we actually make it to air, this’ll be a pretty good story.’

It’s a pretty great story, and Colbert does a good job of telling it, so if you want the longer edition, complete with bat nipples, Jeb Bush impressions and more, be sure to watch the opening monologue for last night’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, below.

The good news? The episode may have come down to the wire, but it did end up coming together and The Late Show lived to see another day on CBS without having to contend with disastrous headlines from the press the next morning. Although a few clips—including this Jeb Bush gem—were left out, Colbert’s style certainly set him apart from other late night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, and it was overall a pretty successful first outing, down-to-the-wire problems notwithstanding.

If you’d like to catch new episodes of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, you can tune in to CBS on weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET. In addition, here’s what else is coming up this fall.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.