Why Stephen Colbert Was Afraid Of Moving His Show To CBS

By now, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is cemented in the schedule. CBS’ big late night program has already found an audience and the network has even put The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in the big post-Super Bowl slot. But just a few months ago, Stephen Colbert wasn’t totally sold on moving to CBS (although he has stated he was ready to leave Comedy Central). In fact, his greatest fear when quitting The Colbert Report and heading to The Late Show was that his CBS series wouldn’t work out, for this specific reason.

You cannot pretend that you like your own show to the audience. They will smell the lie. This is a revelation I had at the old show: We do the show for each other, and at the end of the day, I have the privilege and responsibility to share with the audience what we did. But if there's no joy in putting the show together, then you're lying to the audience. And if I didn't like it, then there would be no worth doing it.

Liking what you do is such a key component in the entertainment field, and it’s clear that Stephen Colbert really liked what he did over at Comedy Central. However, for CBS, he dropped the loud and spirited character he had been playing over the years, he buttoned up a bit and then he got straight to work. A lot of changes had to be made to move Stephen Colbert to network TV and it's easy to see why Colbert found the new gig to have unsure footing.

Stephen Colbert also admitted to Adweek that there were some humps in the beginning, including tapings running long and the well-known incident of one taping that almost didn’t make it to the air.

Obviously, it all ended up working out. While Stephen Colbert isn’t reaching the ratings heights that The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is pulling in each week, he’s not exactly doing shabbily. In fact, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has improved on the timeslot since David Letterman left. Morever, Stephen Colbert knows it.

CBS tells me they're perfectly happy, and whatever they are, they're way more than I used to get. And CBS tells me they're more than Dave got. So everybody's happy as far as I can tell.

As it turns out, Stephen Colbert had nothing to worry about in regards to switching networks, after all. Plus, as Colbert himself noted, being happy and liking your own show is half the battle with producing quality late night programming. If you haven’t given The Late Show with Stephen Colbert a watch, yet, you can tune in on weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET. Or just stick around after the Super Bowl to give the fledgling late night series a chance. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has, after all, become the first late-night series to ever land the slot.

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.