Stephen Colbert: 'Nobody has any belief that I can do anything'

Stephen Colbert
(Image credit: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)

To many, Stephen Colbert is inseparable from his ultra-conservative satirical persona. Colbert's challenge, therefore, on the eve of taking over the Late Show is figuring how to be the "real" Colbert.

It's an unrealistic demand in and of itself, since everyone in entertainment adopts some sort of persona when they're in front of the camera. So the real question is, who will the "new" Colbert be?

Colbert insists it might not be as hard as one would imagine. In his Time cover story interview, the comedian revealed that the real "him" was always lurking behind the Colbert we all know from his days at Comedy Central — the only reason we didn't see him is because every inch of the show was meticulously constructed before it went on air.

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Why it’s incorrect to think he never broke character in The Colbert Report: We would edit any mistake I ever did. People said, "Oh, you never broke" or "You rarely broke." That’s because we always took it out, because part of the character was he wasn't a f—up. He was absolutely always on point. Win. Get over. Stay sharp. That was his attitude all the time, and we had to reflect that in the production of the show. None of that is necessary anymore. Now I can be a comedian. [Time]

But after a decade of The Colbert Show, can he truly make himself anew? Colbert had a final word for his doubters:

"They [used to say], 'You can't do a nightly show in character — it won't last until Christmas,'" Colbert remembers. "And now there's a lot of 'You can't do the show not in character.' Evidently nobody has any belief that I can do anything." [Time]

Colbert takes the helm of the Late Show Sept. 8 on CBS.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.