“The next job I’m taking here, that pays, right?”
That was the question Stephen Colbert asked “Late Show” host David Letterman in his first visit to the show since it was announced that he will be taking over when Letterman retires sometime next year.
Colbert was recounting the story of how he had been offered an internship with the show in 1986.
“I did a foolish thing,” Colbert said. “I did not take the internship.”
“And why was that?” Letterman asked.
“Because you did not pay people,” Colbert said. He laughed, then continued: “It’s an expensive city.”
Well, there you go. Just like so many other college students, Colbert had to turn down a fancy New York internship because he couldn’t afford to work for free. At any rate, he’s in the money now. Maybe he can change the policy.
Colbert engaged in some cordial banter with the outgoing host and as it turns out, he turned down “Late Show” gigs at least twice. The first time was the internship, but the second time was in 1997. Colbert and his writing partner, Paul Dinello, were offered writing jobs on the show, but they couldn’t take them because they were working on “Strangers with Candy.”
Colbert reached into the pocket of his blazer and pulled out the Top 10 list he and Dinello had submitted as their writing sample: the Top 10 Cocktails for Santa (you know, as a boozy alternative to milk and cookies). Letterman had already done the official Top 10 list for the night, but producers brought back the introductory graphics, and Paul Shaffer and the CBS orchestra played back-up to Colbert.
“Wait!” Letterman protested. “He doesn’t get that yet!”
During his opening stand-up monologue, Letterman informed the audience that Colbert would be a guest. “He’s here. He just stopped by to sign the lease. I don’t know if you heard this, but he’ll be taking over the show sometime next year. Pending the physical.”
Colbert, who wears frameless glasses when he’s in character on the “Colbert Report,” was sporting a pair of stylish black hipster frames when he came out with a big smile and literal spring in his step — he was actually bouncing with giddiness as he walked to the guest chair.
“Paul and I have been doing this for a long, long time,” Letterman said. “They could have just as easily hired another boob like me.”
“They hired a boob like me,” Colbert replied. “Every boob is like a snowflake, Dave. We’re all unique in our own way.”
They also took a selfie in front of the audience.
“Do you have your phone ready to go?” Letterman asked, as this was clearly a planned stunt.
“Oh, hell yeah, you and me — can we do a selfie?” Colbert said, pulling out his phone.
Letterman: “Is that still what people do?”
“No,” Colbert said. “This is actually very retro now.”
Colbert tweeted the picture Tuesday night.
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) April 23, 2014
Unsurprisingly, Colbert did not mention the appearance, which was taped earlier, on the “Report,” even though the shows were on the air at the same time.