Stephen Colbert is the Top Choice to Replace David Letterman on ‘The Late Show’

By April 4, 2014

Just yesterday came word from comedian David Letterman himself that he would be retiring from “The Late Show” on CBS when his contract expires in 2015. At the time there were no clear indications of who would replace him, and this writer had several suggestions, including Stephen Colbert. But due to his continued success following “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” with the right-wing satire of “The Colbert Report,” it didn’t seem very likely the late night host could be Letterman’s successor. According to a new report, though, that may not actually be the case.

Mashable has learned that Stephen Colbert is currently the frontrunner to take Letterman’s vacated spot on “The Late Show,” and the host actually met with CBS while Letterman was still only considering retirement. Of course, they also note that CBS met with several other potential replacements, including Jon Stewart, the man who helped Colbert launch his career and produces his Comedy Central show.

Conveniently enough, Colbert’s contract at Comedy Central expires at the end of 2014, which would make for some perfect timing for Colbert to head over to network television after Letterman ends 22 years on the CBS late night talk show. But as Letterman indicated in his retirement speech from last night, “We don’t have the timetable for this precisely down – I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up.”

Stephen Colbert - Late Show

Colbert would make for an excellent host on “The Late Show” as his character’s rapport – as dumb and despicable as he pretends to be – always makes for entertaining banter with his guest. Of course, Colbert would likely leave behind his phony right-wing persona in favor of just being himself (though it would be nice if the faux-Colbert popped up occasionally).

But the question is whether or not CBS will be able to entice Colbert away from his comfy cable home. One would think that Comedy Central would put up one hell of a fight to keep Colbert on after “The Daily Show” because he’s become such a staple of the network’s success. But this year will mark the ninth year that Colbert has called Comedy Central home, so maybe it’s time to move on.

At the same time, the late night game on network TV is a bit different. Episodes are an hour long and run five nights a week, so there’s much more work to be done. Plus, Colbert probably wouldn’t have the same kind of intellectual and political guests he seems to thrive on, more often having to interview pop culture figures who may not be as interesting to the witty and intelligent comedian who has won a Grammy, a Peabody Award and several Emmys.

Stephen Colbert - Flag

Finally, Colbert is 49 years old, and while he’s not geriatric or close to retirement age, how long would he stick around “The Late Show” before another replacement would have to be found? Still, Colbert leaving “The Colbert Report” would be somewhat fortuitous after all this #CancelColbert nonsense that’s been going around online lately.

Speaking of age, one of the other names that has apparently been thrown around is Neil Patrick Harris, who just happens to be a CBS favorite coming off the network’s series finale of “How I Met Your Mother” earlier this week. He’s certainly young enough, and has shown his hosting skills of the highest quality by hosting The Tony Awards for Broadway.

Anyway, there’s still a year to figure out who the best man (or woman, as we’ve expressed would be the best move) for the job will be. But all this talk about replacing David Letterman on “The Late Show” has us remembering the awesome three-episode arc on “Louie” where Louis C.K. was groomed to possibly take over the show before Letterman decided to renew his contract for 10 years. That likely won’t happen this time, but here’s a clip leading into the arc from the third season:

Who do you want to replace David Letterman on “The Late Show” if not Stephen Colbert?

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.