MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The night is finally here.

After nine months, secret sketches and practice performances, Stephen Colbert is ready to take over as host of “The Late Show” on CBS.

Colbert spent ten years playing a right-wing pundit on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and fans have been wondering if they’ll recognize him in his new persona.

Amelia Santaniello got the chance to ask him that question during a recent interview in Chicago.

Amelia Santaniello: Not to get all Barbara Walters-like but who is Stephen Colbert?

Stephen Colbert: Who is Stephen Colbert? If I were a tree, would I chop me down and burn me? If I were an illegal plant, would I smoke me? I’m a comedian.

The old show, I played a pundit who had to always be right. His stock and trade was fear and anger.

[The new show’s] none of that, but leave all the jokes.

What kind of format are you going to have? Are you allowed to talk about that?

Sure, sure!

It’s going to be a late-night talk show. We going to have celebrities and music and sketches and jokes. We’re going to have dance and we’re going to be singing.

One of the things we’re going to be bringing over from the old show, the Colbert Report, is we’re going to be covering the news everyday as well.

Do you enjoy the interviewing part? 

It’s my favorite part.

I really like writing and telling jokes, but you hear them played perfectly in your head. And I always feel like I might screw up that joke when I get on air. I have to relax and just tell it rhythmically right.

But with interviews, you don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s all about discovery. You’re adding to every moment. You can’t possibly screw it up as long as you listen.”

Did David Letterman give you any words of advice? Did he help you out a little bit?

He did. It was very nice. I went in and hung out with Dave for about an hour-and-a-half a few weeks before the show ended.

He answered all my questions. A lot of them were just questions about the theater itself — how to play the room. It was very sweet. He was very gracious with his time.

Do you think the room will be as cold as it was for the Letterman show? 

It’s going to be at least as cold as it was for Dave’s show. That’s not cold for cold’s sake; that’s comedy weather. Because if your teeth are chattering, you are that close to laughing already. Makes it easy for everybody.

Have you ever been to Minnesota?

I have been to Minnesota! I lived in Chicago 11 years. At some point, you end up in Minnesota.

You think you’ll ever come back to Minnesota? We’d love to have you.

Not so much in the wintertime…

No, come at the State Fair time. One of these years you should come to the fair.

Oh, I’ve been to the Minnesota State Fair. Norwegian dairy farmers very seriously getting their free milk and their donuts.

You see the birthing of a calf.

Let me ask you something: Do the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul legally have to be twins?

No, it’s not written in law. They don’t have to be twins.  

Oh, they rescinded that law.

Anything else you want to add? Maybe something we don’t know about you.

Hmm, I was an altar boy for 11 years. Never made priest. Never made the squad. I got cut at the last minute. Because I love the ladies.


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