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I'm so glad the other two couldn't make it today. I'm Sean Hayes and I am the host of Smart List. It's a show where we used to have to ask you believe the balls on this guy. The mission is low when they fucking plug my mike and I'm going to light this kid up. Out. Oh, Sean, I was just I was just told that. I was told that you guys could make it. That's weird, because I was just saying to to my friend what a great job you're doing on the intro.


So where does that leave us now? Just kind of like enjoy the show. Catch some smart. Smart. Smart. Sean Jason's interview the night he goes, stepping up from his apartment, he goes, have you got. Have you got like like as if it was like, oh, have you got into my crackers? And I go into his cupboard or they open up. And I had taken a photo of his fridge and how bad it was.


And I sent it to him and Kimmel and Thurow.


And then I said I said, yeah, let's take a look at these crackers. They are the most unappetizing looking crackers you've ever seen.


Why? Because they're not edged in cheese or they're not anything.


It's cardboard with seeds. And and then he says, I just come back from working because you eat after work. I go, Yeah, it's called dinner.


You know, a lot of people do it. They've been doing it for a minute. And I was having salad with grilled chicken. He's like, what are you doing? Because that just doesn't compute for him, because he just said, Jason, when's the last time you had, like, a burger or pizza or anything?


Just horrible. I had a burger about three weeks ago and it was incredible. You guys should check into it. It's three weeks ago. Yeah. Yeah, it's ground beef. And that they go remembers the date.


He remembers the whole thing. Go ahead. Was on the calendar. It was on a calendar.


The bun was soft, but with a crispy little edge to it. I went ahead and had a little ketchup, lettuce, tomato, cheese.


Oh, good for you. Jason's death row meal, they'd be like, well, what do you want? Most people, you know, I want a thing and a chicken. And it's, you know, pasta with a huge thing in a Sunday. And Jason's like, if I could have half a slice of a whole wheat pita that be nice. And a half hour on the treadmill.


Is it available before he passes, before and before they wire him up to the chest?


I've told you a million times, is a 600 pound man in here waiting to get out? I have to I have to stay on the mouse wheel. Otherwise it's not going to end well.


He's got me on this lemon water now, too, which is which has nothing in it but lemon and water.


Guys, speaking of six hundred pounds, we have a guy today who has six hundred pounds of talent.


All six hundred pounds is a talent. Here we go. What a description. It is not a good Segway. It's the name of his autobiography. Huge fan of this guy.


I love that you have no idea who it is. I'm so excited that he's on the show. He's so nice to be here. I've been a fan of his and watched him for many, many, many years. I've never done a deep dive on this fella in doing so for today, I had no idea we had so much in common. This is what we have in common. OK, I'm from Chicago. He spent quite a while in Chicago specifically.


It's not really uncommon, but I didn't know specifically at Second City, which I also attended classes. He's Irish Catholic, youngest child of a massive litter. I'm also the youngest of a large Irish Catholic family. He has a big love of Lord of the Rings franchise. And I think you guys know how I feel about all of that.


Yeah, very ives'. Yeah. A million times. We both grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons. We both have a connection to The Daily Show.


What's so funny? Oh, no, no. What's the funny.


Oh, just a touch of the Dragons is just so so you guys both just crushed a lot of ass growing up. That's covered.


Sean, how excited do you get when you hear the sound. Bu bu bu bu. I just soiled myself.


I think I get so excited. He's currently, he's currently in first place in the million year late night talk show race.


My best friend in the whole world, Stephen Colbert.


Hang on. Was Steve what. I love the pan down to the tilt down tilting down they go.


They go. That's professional. That's how you get no one. Yeah. That kind of technical expertise.


You're not going to get that from Kimmel or Fallon listener in a very area date. Yeah, like library home. Dan, it's kind of exactly.


By the way, another thing we have in common, Stephen.


What is that? What is that. What what's Lord of the Rings? Oh, Lord of the Rings. I love it.


I can't get enough of one volume read book of w March edition of The Lord of the Rings. Wow. That's The Lord of the Rings.


All of this behind me on this shelf is Tolkien commentary or the unfinished tales like, you know, the fall of God to or the children here and over here is more Lord of the Rings commentary that Smiggle.


That's Golem right here. What's this?


It's that from the movie Actual Hero's Sword. He's holding up a sort of Jackson game. This is one of the fucking swords that was used in the movie. Look at that thing. How did you get like, I don't care if you don't like Tolkien or the movies, you've got to like you must have children all over the world.


How do you stay laid? How do you stop getting laid? How are you not getting laid right now?


I fight them off with another one, which was given to me by the sword. And Vigo himself gave this to me, dressed up as Eric or No. And and it was the greatest sex I ever had. Wow.


You and Viggo slept together. Is that when you're making these guys said, as I remember, did you buy those or were they given to you?


They were given to me.


This is actually one of the things from the Lord of the Rings that's incredible. And I had to actually try these both away from my kids because when my boys were going, they would fight each other with it. I'm like, I could pay for college with this lesson.


Stephen, it's great to have you here on. On the show. Well, it's a pleasure, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me. Of course, I am such a big fan. And just right off the bat, Stephen, is there is there some kind of like a mental adjustment you have to make in your brain to go from host to guest? Like is your instinct to take over an interview when you're the subject?


Absolutely not.


I'm fascinating and I am fascinated with what I do.


Almost every interview I do, I listen to the person going. I could answer this better than I could answer. I've read your bio. I did the pre. Yeah, I know exactly how to fucking kill with this answer. And you are shanking this the urge to like just say go, let's switch. Yeah, I'm happy.


Do you like that. Do you like when a guest comes on and they kind of freestyles and goes and goes off script basically. Do you like that or do you like sticking to it.


As long as they've got a story, that's all I care about. The only thing you don't want is for someone to come on and they say, just ask them about. Ask them about their first day on set, asking about first day on set and then you say so got big. I mean, you're a young actor. You're there with all these like huge stars. What was your first day on set like? And they go, it was great.


And that's it, full stop. And then you go like, fuck me.


They like they don't if they say they're going to do one thing and then they don't do it, that's when you just want to open a vein because you realize there's another ten minutes with this person. The other version is if somebody is super, hey, man, I just put it out there in their public life, you know, and then you have them on and say, hey, OK, put it out there. And they go, you know, people people have different attitudes about like they completely back away from whatever position or what their book says is right or someone or nice, like, you know, whatever they do, they don't.


Because they see the audience. They see the audience will say, well, this a stupid new show where there's no audience to yell at them. But they see my audience and they go, you know, everybody's got their opinions. And they're like, that was that's the worst. People kind of play a character. They lose a little courage when they get in front of the audience.


Right. We got to go after them. Were you were you sort of like privately resent, like, private fucker? You're on my show. You should be you should be entertaining. And will you kind of leave them hanging out to dry?


Will you throw him a lifeline? Why? I mean, I'm not there to, like, stick a knife on anybody I don't like. Even on the old gig, I didn't really wasn't there to do that. That was more of that was more real.


A gotcha environment over in your show, Steve and I got you.


Well, when you're there, you're there. The general feeling for the staff is, fuck you, fuck this guy.


Yeah, I know. I get it balkwill up and I like it and they're like before I go on stage you're like, you know, you come back with his liver on a stick, you fucking don't come back at all because we are hurt by his presence in this bill.


Sure. You know why.


Sure I do know one and I go I promise you I'll make him suffer. I'll tell you someone who actually is actually I have a pleasant hostility with is that's Jason Bateman. I'm right because I've interviewed you a couple of times and I actually enjoy there's a pleasant hostility with you as a guest. And I mean, what does that mean? Don't you feel like there's hostility, like we don't get along?


Well, you're incredibly pleasant, like you are in such an enjoyable performer comes. But but there is no there it is no and no. You said there. Are you okay. Good for you. All right. Yes, there is OK.


But there is doubt that in addition to your pleasantness and your wonderful, charming nature, there's something about you that's a little hostile as it gets it's anger.


And I can't hang on a sec. I can't imagine I'm the only host who feels this way. Your friend might be the only one to tell you. I look forward to it. I love a guest who's a little hostile.


Let me just say this for Jason really quickly, because you don't know this, Steven, but one of the last times that Jason was on your show, he might have been a little hostile because he was going through. Yeah, yeah.


Let me explain my hostility. The last time I was on your show. Know about this? I don't think he does know. I actually don't know.


OK, remember anything about the interview? It's just that there was a sense perhaps it's defensiveness and the hostility is as a Rhodes's Thornes still beautiful, but defending one's.


Let me say this. Let me say this, Jason, I we're going to do this pressing. And he came and that we were meeting at JFK. He was going to do your show and he shows up JFK late and he's a sweaty mess. And he said, How to Colbert go?


And he's like, Jesus fucking Christ.


Right. Jason at the set up. That's yeah. You're great. All right.


So here's first of all, Steven, my role is to tell the story. No, I got it.


Is this a true story? Is a true story I'm about to hear? Yes, it's a true story.


Now, I will first say in my defense, I have a British mother who has was very sarcastic and dry. And so my sense of humor tends to be a little like that can come across as hot. OK, I apologize.


You also have a lot of anger just below the surface. I've got some anger below the surface.


OK, so here's here's the story, Steve and I. I will say I will apologize to Mr. Jimmy Kimmel right now, because I told him about this and he said, oh, you got to say that for the next time you're on. So screw you, Jimmy. I'm going to tell Steven because Steven owns it because it was on his show.


So here's here's what happened. I come to do your show.


I'm in the dressing room there, which, by the way, has no bathrooms, OK? At least the dressing room I got, the dressing room I got I did not get the I didn't get the lead guest dressing or whatever it was.


There's no Johnny in there.


So here I am. They put you in the pit to put me in the pit.


So I'm in the pit and and my my little suit's in there, my little outfit and little talk show suits in there. And everyone gets out of the dressing room so I can change into my my suit. And I put it on and, you know, my wife likes me wearing stuff. It's a little tight and and I don't like it, but I guess I lost the battle on this one. So I put it on a little bit tight.


And I think a boy could be less tight if I just let a little of this gas out. I just came from dinner and and things have built up a little bit. And I feel like if I could just let this one bubble out, things would get really worked out for me.


Again, let me remind you, audience true story, just a true story. All of this is completely true. Keep going.


So, so nice is the suit. How nice is the suit. Armani, it's. Please what what did you say to me. Nineteen eighty eight.


No, and it's not Hugo Boss either. They make love. There's something I can't even pronounce. Probably Fukada Surakarta. So.


So the suits on or at least at least the pants are on such that I know I need to, I need to try to make a little bit more room here. And so I released a valve a little bit outcomes less.


Well it's more than er less, less than solid right now.


Now what are we to airtime at this point. What are we to airtime. We're four minutes from forty minutes from where you're. Well you're well done with the monologue.


You're probably in commercial break and it's time to walk. I haven't even got the makeup on yet. Who's a makeup artist waiting outside the door for me to get the suit on? So this is a problem and there's a knock on the door. She'd like to get the makeup started. Stage manager would like for us to be walking. So now I've got a I got to get the pants off, get the underwear off and get rid of the underwear in the bathroom.


That doesn't exist there. So now I've got to bury the underwear in the trash can. I've got a I've got to top it with some some Kleenex or something across the globe.


We usually have some bread, so nobody finds no one's the wiser.


No one can. And so anyway, so couple of cancelled Lacroix's.


Yeah. So suits still tight. And now I'm Comando. I'm not feeling great about myself. I've forgotten all my funny answers that I worked on with the segment producer on the preinterview. Now I'm sweating. I really need makeup. I got David Cross in the dressing room next to me ready to pretape an episode and he wants to talk. And so I let him in. I let I tell him what's happened. He thinks it's fantastic. He thinks I should lead with that.


I elect not to. I get the makeup on, the powder, whatever. I make it out there and and I sit down and we do our interview. And that is probably the reason I was less than chatty.


He just shat his pants.


Steven, you know, I mean, you know, OK, now, you know, why don't you want to know why I'm mad?


If I hadn't appeared on this podcast today, you would have told that story on Good for You when it's my trash can for you and my show where that happened and you were going to tell that story on camera.


It's totally entitled. It's a good point. Should be doubled the anger you are now. You owe me underwear. Absolutely.


Oh, me underwear. Because what size are we talking a men's medium and will urinate.


Well, the boy small. He's a boy small now with his diet boy. Small. All right.


What kind of like I like a boxer brief. Got it.


OK, because it doesn't preferably a sort of a rubber saddle too. I think there's a great question he just asked you. Does it crawl up your leg?


Does it crawl up your leg because they crawled up my leg? No, it doesn't, because the fluid in the seat of it keep it weighted weighted down on your mild. And it's like it's like a Post-it note against your you can imagine we're like, he's going on Colbert.


Not great, man. Not great. I took a shit in my pants and I fucking buried my underwear and I'm fucked. And now we've got to get an all night flight BS like, for fuck's sake, I'm fucking. He was like very you know what, we can go down this rabbit hole, no pun intended, because I had a similar thing.


And in grade school I was in eighth grade. I raised my hand. I had already crapped myself in my jeans.


I was twelve years old. I raised my hand. I said, can I go to the bathroom? And she said, yes, I left. I walked into the bathroom. I go into the stall. I take my underwear off, I throw it into the stall underneath next to me. Sure. And then I hear all like the entire football team come into the bathroom and they go, whoa, dude, what the.


Oh, God. And they opened that the stall next to me like, holy shit.


Oh, my God. There's city underwear. Oh, my God. And I was shaking.


I thought I was going to get literally the shit out of me again by these people. Plus, we all have those stories.


Well. Well, you're up. Well, you probably never have that. No, I'm good. Batter up. Well, yeah, I don't think I do. Come on.


You've had it. You have a history with alcohol. You must have wrecked plenty assurance.


It wasn't my life wasn't fucking Trainspotting, OK? I was shitting beds. But I will say that I did I did do a similar thing to you, Jason, was I was spending the night with a lovely young lady at her apartment years ago, 25 plus years ago in New York City.


Just a tremendous date and getting to know you and woke up in the morning, had a little coffee at her apartment, and and then it got away from me.


And I actually ended up opening the small window in her bathroom and throwing my underwear into the courtyard.


So I threw it out of the building.


Stephen, we're going to complete the circle and we're going to go ahead and complete the circle and start the interview. Sure I am.


And I have one I have one story like that involves Conan O'Brien. I have one.


I have one story like that. We were people. I was like, hey, do you guys all know each other? I actually am friends with Conan, a late onset friendship in our careers. But we were out. Where were we? We were at in Deer Valley or in Utah. And I was skiing out there with my family. And Conan called me up and he said, Could I speak with you guys? And I was like, you know, and he said, Please, I have no I have no friends.


And I frightened my family and could I? And I was like Conan. And I said I said, OK, yeah. All right. And so we met at the top of Silver Strike. You guys know? Sure. We met at the top of Australia. And it just it just me and him, because my kids saw him and said, I don't want to ski with him. And and there were there were you know, they were fans of Leno and they said, we don't want to see you.


And I made them take I made them take a side because I saw like, if you want to be in show business, the most important thing in show business is to be in a camp.


That's right. You got some some like talent, OK, like dedication. But the most important thing is to pick a camp in Hollywood and never forgive anyone for anything that they do. Right. And and they said, Dad, we can't because we're Leno. And I said, I understand. Well, and I'm proud of you. I said, I'm proud of you.


I'm proud of you right now and should be you're crying, telling this story about how proud you.


And so they went off to do what their mom and they want to go do that, get a big cookie size of their head.


And so I get on I to live with Conan and and he is you know, he loves the sound of his own voice.


And so I work on the left and I'm like, we got the masks on. There's a chance for nobody to know who we are, you know what I mean? Because we got we got the helmet. We got the goggles on. We got the mask. We can actually go out there and enjoy ourselves. He's like, oh, Conan O'Brien, when we're in the lives and his helmet is the color of his hair, like his helmet actually is the color of his hair.


OK, and the back on the back of a director's face is stitched into the back of his jacket.


And I like this is embarrassing.


So we get on we're on the we're on the we're on the war on terror loving God. Look on the left. We're not because it's not enclosed was a big part of the story.


And we're on the lift going up. And he's talking he's kind of obsessed with Lou Diamond Phillips at this time again.


And he's all he wants to talk about is an officer and and a movie. Other thing on History Channel, Lou, Dr. Phillips used to be used to watch, like, Kelly's Heroes or something. And then he would interview someone saying, how was that tank battle? Was that accurate? And he's like, why the fuck does Lou Diamond Phillips I know he was in that movie with, like Meg Ryan about like something about Denzel Washington. But why does he get to be the guy who interviewed officers and that he like he's like he will not let it go.


He's got he's sorry now, but, you know, because he's interviewing these people as if he's had military service when he he always like he does like it, he'll turn and stuff like that. So Conan won't shut it off by the time and. We're going over here, you're going up and you'll be going others, you're going over ski runs. Yeah, and this is out West where it might take you 20 minutes to get to the top of the mountain.


So you're looking at other people and you're judging the way they ski and everything I'm going in to he seems like a little one is a little like a conga line, kind of like toddler ski class going going by.


And he goes, I bet I could take a dump on those kids.


And I said I said, don't even joke about that.


That's because of my children and their mother. Nice. That's not right. That no, I don't want my kids. But there was like, you know, like all the reindeer club or whatever it is, you know, and they all they got the clips on the front of their skis. So they have to be in and it's a French bread, pizza, French fries the entire time. Exactly. Which is how Kominsky is, by the way, for pizza.


So it's a French fry, which isn't easy. It is.


And so we're going over one of these runs. I don't know, it's like homeward bound or whatever, one of those things like that, you know, up there. And and Canaan's like, I bet I bet I could do that. And I said, please don't try. And he said, too late. Sounds like you're daring me.


I don't like to be scared of falling. You're like a neck to ankle, like one piece jumpsuit. How are you going to do this? And he goes, he's got a flap on the back and he just scoots it out over the back.


They swear, hand to God.


He yells, Tortora, that's his that's his shirt or try tortora.


And just like, have you ever seen like those movies were like, hey, like some a rescue squad has to put down a marker in the snow.


So I help you like it's like or it's like the flame retardant coming out of the plane.


The same. The same. It's the same color is his hair way. One hundred percent. A bright orange weight comes out.


It's just like it's like he lives just on Torito Dust and it just absolutely.


He drops it like when he drops it like one of those planes it's for sure. It's just and literally knocks these kids down.


Lesson over knocks them down.


I got and and it was just a high pitched cackle and.




And I'm like, are you okay. That is not. And and again the color again was like No one before you wore the wigs. Yes. Now it's all what do you still had hair. Right. Yeah, sure. Before. And he's all proud. And I got to say I'm, I'm impressed, of course. Say a man, a man his age that all this is again, this is 100 percent true.


One hundred percent. It isn't true. Yeah. He might remember this story differently than I do. And we've never talked about it. You never talk about it that moment. We never talk about it. We made a promise.


He looked at me and his pride, it went from like pride to deep change. I want you to swear that not only did you not see that, like you'll never say anything, but you'll never say we went skiing together. And I said, I won't ever say anything about us skiing together. If you never say anything about in that day, that second from that second didn't happen around. We so appreciate the trust.


And one of the reasons was, is because we get to the top and obviously who's up there tops like they're like me.


Shreddies. I thought you were going to say Lou Diamond Phillips. Jesus Christ, what a ride.


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So let's let's let's begin the interview. Sure. And I just want to say I do want to add one more thing, if I can, before we start the interview. And none of this was recorded. Right.


We're not going to do.


The one thing I want to say is that, again, as we remember things differently and remember differently than I do, if you ever thought about it again, is that the one thing I know happened is the Lou Diamond Phillips School.


One thing I'm not sure about the rest of it.


Stephen, welcome to the show. Stephen, good to be here. Yeah, thank you.


And I love your short stories. They're going to cut together. Great. So listen to me, I, I have been such a fan for so long.


We don't have to go through your whole I mean, people might find it interesting. I know they would. I know I would, but I don't want to bore you with you. So I want to know the trajectory of the of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, because I feel like when the show now feels like it's different than when it began a little bit, it's different than it was a year ago. Yeah.


Did you at the beginning, did you feel like you had to conform into Letterman's kind of format or any pressure like that and then realized, wait a minute, I need to do my own thing? You're like, what steered it in the direction it is today?


Just trying a whole bunch of different stuff. Like when I when I started, I had never been myself before. I was like, I'm not a host. I like hosting parties, but I'm not a host. I don't know what that was. I'd always even The Colbert Report, that was that was a 10 year sketch. Like I did a ten year thing. I was doing the character really like that guy. And I are not the same guy.


And I worked really hard to never leave a character. Like, I work really hard. Like before I went on stage every night, I'd slap myself on the face hard and like, really just to wake myself up and I'd look in the mirror and go, hey, don't drop it now.


Like you've been carrying this plate of glasses for like six years. Don't drop it now. What was the purpose of carrying it for six years? So I tried to stay. Really, you know, it's a character you wears lightly as a hat, as the saying goes lightly is a cap, but I still try to keep it on. Then I go over and I go, OK, so tell me, what do I want to do? I don't know.


So I just kept doing different things for, I'd say six months. And then one of the things I was doing at the same time was actually show running the show. I was I didn't have a show runner. It was me. Oh yeah. I wish I was. I had the old show and I thought I could do both and I kind of lost my mind. I'm like, I can't. I can't. I'm not thinking at all about what I want to do.


So immediately I'm thinking about running the show.


I got to say, Stephen, it really struck me. I notice one of the last times I went there, we did it, we did a bit, and I came in a little bit early. We rehearsed it. And then and then I got a knock at the door.


And when you Rutter's somebody on the show said, hey, we're downstairs. Steve is rewriting the bit right now if you want to come down, because he's kind of changing it. And I was so shocked by how close it was to Showtime. And you were downstairs and you were you were driving, you were at the computer and you were the one who was doing it and taking ideas from everybody. And you were the one who was actually physically changing the bit yourself.


And I thought, wow, that is so what a high wire act you're about to go out and do the show.


Well, I still knew that that never changed. That's incredible. I'm talking about the show business side of it. Like I had somebody can I take all the show business side of it so all I could think about was the comedy. And then that that changed the way I did my entire day. Let me just think about, OK, I'm just a comedian and a performer here, and that's when I found out what I liked and what I didn't like about what I was doing.


But that level of control was like it was you guys.


The I, I still I mean, I can't imagine not like working on it till the last minute. Right. I don't I can't imagine I can't imagine that because every day is this metaphor Jon Stewart and I used to use back when used to work with that guy is it's like a distillery like the morning you get the pitches that's like the corn and then you mash it with the first draft and then you take that mash and you check the alcohol level and you go, OK, let's rewrite it.


That's actually to put it in the little thing and to get the pure alcohol out of it. And then the last rewrite that thing in the room before you go on. That's where you try to make it. The way I would say it. Then you try to get it in your own mouth feel. And that Medlab mouth feels like that's what that's OK. Aging or something, you know, that's putting it on the barrel. So it turns into whiskey.


And you can't always do that. Right? It's always the goal. I'd hate to not try. And it's not like you look at it go like, oh shit, that's brandy every night. Sometimes it's just moonshine. But you want to try to make it brandy if you can't, do you ever show up?


And it's in great shape right off the bat. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I've got well I don't know because there's a process that happens before I ever see it. There's the pitch in the morning which I always hear and I weigh in on which of those I like. You know, we might get eight pitches and we'll right on, guys. All right. On five or four of them. And so sorry.


What does that mean? You get eight pitches. Eight pitches. Of jokes or eight pitches of ideas to do areas, stories like this for monologue or for after monologue, listen to a monologue.


I mean, there are other there are other syllables that get written more like buckets, you know, like they're not as timely. But the monologue that first 15 minutes of the show, that is for lack of a better word, that's the national conversation. What are people talking about today? And we don't we don't dictate that. We literally have a guy we stole from Anderson Cooper's wonderful researcher named Brandon Riggo. Brandon, what's the conversation? Where are the news trucks in the world right now?


What's what? Because I'm going to talk about that thing that the audience has heard all day anyway and have their own anxiety about it. What's the deadline on that?


We record the show at five 30. Cutoff is about five. Right. We have a late break or team. We have a team that starts writing around three o'clock ish. And The Late Breakers before we put this script to bed around five or five fifteen we go late breakers. Got any many chunks, we call it anybody getting chunky upstairs. I'm going to be many chunks. And then we go, oh, we got maxi chunks because there was just a press conference or a new vaccine just came through or whatever it is.


What's going to lead all the cable news tonight is what we're looking at. What's what's the lead? Because that may not be what we lead our monologue with. We might leave with something silly that just sort of like puts a little gas in the engine for the audience. But we're going to talk about whatever it is we try not to ignore, whatever the thing, even if it's tragic, sadly. Right. Because we don't make jokes about it. But we don't want to say, like, hey, we didn't have the same experience you had as an audience tonight.


That process took about six months to create the the way we do it. And we've been doing that for about five, five years now.


Sean mentioned at the top when, you know, when he was introducing you, that you you were at Second City in Chicago. I know that you were a you were part of that whole gang. Who were you, by the way? Who are your kind of your contemporaries when you were in Chicago? Because everybody has kind of different classes that they were.


Well, yeah. Yeah. Well, there's there's two different things. There's there is the people you watched. Yeah. You wanted to be your contemporaries and then there's the people you performed with. But your mind, those people you watched or all this, you're like the people you were watching, like the people I watch, the people who I first of all, improvise, actually not a second city, but at this little club in Chicago called Cross Crosscurrents Crosscurrents and was under the Belmont L and just really, really dive a little place.


They pass. Yeah, squeeze. Kwesi was first guy I ever saw him at all. I want to do that. I want to whatever he's got, I want that that little secret he has when he walks on stage. I don't know what it is, but I, I always want to know what it is like. How can you today. I still like I kind of still want to be Dave Swazis especially his ability to improvise. But who else was there.


Who Mike Myers was on stage and Tim Meadows was Steve Carell right now. Carol was Korell was essentially my same generation. He was about he was about a year ahead of me. Second City works like a yeah. Like you come in and you learn, you learn like the last forty years of material and you do that on the road. He was in that process like six months to a year ahead of me in that process.


And and like Amy, Amy Sedaris hired on the same day because there's a big casting call every year, like the three hundred people come in and they pick like five, four or six my year. The people who are hired that August were which was nineteen eighty eight I guess was me. Rose Abdah is hilarious. Amy Sedaris, Chris Paul Dinello and Chris Farley. Wow. Wow. And Greg Hollmann.


Chris Farley is the first six months I toured with Farley.


God, he toured around the country. I could do no no wrong to me. Funniest guy.


You know, people don't talk about Farley enough. People don't agree. He deserves a deeper memory.


He's written off as just kind of like this big, dumb, sort of goofy. You did big physical stuff, but there was such a purpose there. It was so sharp. Right?


He is. You're right. That's I was written off, not a dumb guy.


It's so specific and so in and was so spot on and it was so, so specific. Right.


So spot on. Just you just he and Sedaris had this thing like I remember that I saw them before I worked with them. I saw them on stage because they were actually we were higher, but they were actually placed in the company first. And so I was literally still like waiting tables there. And I saw I saw both of them on stage. And I said, who are those people in? First thing they ever saw Amy say? As you walked on stage, door burst open is this tiny little bundle of energy.


She goes, oh, my God, you've got a wet bar and laughing like that and runs over and goes up. And now I want to see the cocktail she's going to make. Now I want it. I want to work with her. And then and me and Paul and Amy ended up essentially working together almost every day. And you created strangers with candy, we were like we were in a common law marriage for the next. That's great. And Strangers with Candy, one of my favorites.


Yes, fantastic.


I heard the ones you described, Amy, is like an idiot savant without the seven.


Is that true as a joke. As a joke to her. To her? Oh, no.


She knows that. Yes, I think that I think that might be her own accurate. That might be your own interpretation of herself. She would sit in the corner, as we would like. Right. Change with candy. And of course, everything is written for her and around her. It's all built around, like, what can we build around her and Paul? And would be like three o'clock in the morning, we'd be slapping on. The key is going, OK, where do we go with this?


And we'd be just sitting there in like the horror of the clock whizzing on the wall at the hands going around like we have to shoot this tomorrow. And then it would be like, well, what if it was a squirrel? And we'd go, what? Like, what did I say? Like, you said something about rural and it would be exactly the right thing in that moment. And she wouldn't necessarily know that she had absorbed every problem we were trying to surmount.


And she would just blurt out exactly the right answer, exactly when we needed it. So the wheels are always turning inside that little coconut sized skull of ours.


But she's one of those people who makes me laugh more than I just I can't. She's like a drug to me. Yeah, I love you. But speaking of that, Stephen, like thinking really fast. Do you have such a fast brain?


I love that you you're like, you know, wishing you were had as great of improv skills as some of the people you grew up with. But you do. I mean, your brain works so fast.


Is it frustrating to be with people like you are? I am really.


Is this agony to actually be doing anything with you today? Are you writing your nails to appear on your podcast? Are you ripping paper? No, I am enjoying myself, no.


But is it is it frustrating being around people who don't who don't think is part of your work as far as your work as hard as you or anything like that?


No, I actually don't think of myself as that great of an improviser. I mean, I know a lot of people who are better than I am because I don't think it's necessarily about being fast.


I think it's being like honestly reactive because, you know, I not to get too spiritual here, but the first guy took any classes with the DEL close. And while they're there, people have their own opinions or pros and cons about, you know, del close. I don't have much of an experience with him. But he one of the he said was that don't think that it's you don't think it's you that have to do this. You actually have to be reactive and just the universe is going to do it.


If you actually do it right. It's it's just happening. You won't you won't know who did it if you do it right. And I think that that's sort of in some ways the opposite of quickness. That's vulnerability. That's vulnerability. And there are people who are great vulnerable performers who I'm incredibly jealous of because I still have a need to please. And that can get in the way of me actually being a good improvisors. Does you want to score?


Don't you consider what you do on on your show. Your conversations with people is as improv and I mean, I do.




Being able to just be on your feet and be listening and then.


Yeah, it's not I mean, to me the old show was more like improv because there was a character choice. And then you were you were making you were making performance choices in the moment. That was really improvisation. This one. I really especially now in covid, I just tried to actually have a conversation with them.


They must be kind of harder now, just being yourself in a certain way than spending all those years where you you were playing a character and getting it's because you have to be much more honest again without being too sort of, you know, corny, but you're being much more just being yourself and being vulnerable in that way is probably more difficult. Yes or no.


So it was for me. Yeah, it is for me. I mean, now I wouldn't want to do that. Right. Right. I mean, I didn't want to do that old guy anymore anyway. That's why I left. It's not like I got tired. I still like doing him, but I wanted to leave while I still liked it. And I never intended to be doing what I'm doing right now. Matter of fact, I already made the decision to leave that show before I was offered this one.


That was this was one hundred percent happy. Oh, wow. I had a whole other plan. I had a whole other thing. I was going to.


What was that plan? Was you going to do?


I still want to do it, so I don't want to steal it. But I honest to God, that's how show biz I am registered trademark. I was going to put that character into a narrative. I was going to put that character into an honest to God like half hour. You should still do what I wanted. I wanted to follow I wanted to follow what he was going to do next.


Yeah, but nobody nobody can steal that idea because half the comedy starring like sort of like the character from report will just like a single camera or multicamera.


I can tell you what we're going to be I going to tell you what was going to go with it is that in 2012, what gave him the idea was that I had all of this money because I started a super PAC. I started I raised one point three dollars million, which scared the bejesus out. Me, by the way, we started as a game like I on the old show, I like to always just do everything real, you know?


And as my publicist once said to me, Carrie, Carrie, like my dear friend, she once said to me, I need to ask about this running for president thing. Everybody's calling me and I just want to get everything nailed down here. So I understand. Is this is this a joke or are you running for real? And I said, well, if it wasn't real, it wouldn't be a joke. She just got it. Got it.


Got it. And that was the way we did. I wanted to do everything for real. I really had a super PAC. I really wanted to raise money because I really wanted to see I wanted to be the joke.


The character was the joke. Right. What made it easier for me is that any time you would approach a subject, there is a base code of joke because the character is a joke, right? I could approach any subject and there would always be some level of comedy, of course, because the character would be the joke. And now there always has to be a joke. And that's what's harder about now. I don't have to turn that extra knob to do the character.


And there are times when I really I really do enjoy being myself and I actually enjoy interviewing people more as myself. But I think it requires more of my writers in a way, because they actually are joke per minute ratio has to be much better because it's set and punch lines. Right. You know what, guys, we're not there yet, but a return to semi normal looks kind of like it might be on the horizon. And that all sounds great until you realize that you've put on 20 pounds in the past year and will eventually have to go out in public again and again at some point.


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But she was kind of short. It was one of those things I wish that I kind of had been able to go back and find out, you know, a lot more about her origin.


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And now back to the show. Do you give yourself the credit that you deserve for being such a great actor by by playing that character as as well as you did with no winking?


No, not to the point where, by the way, Jason, sorry for Tracy in Wisconsin. We're talking about The Colbert Report just so people know what we've never said, what we just keep saying, the character where you played a very a fervent right wing, what would you call it, pundit guy.


Yeah. So that that took that took acting question.


One second. I'm going to interrupt you, please. I'm the host of John. I question I question whether Tracy in Wisconsin hearing Colbert Report or if that helps her any more than knowing that I'm Stephen Colbert and saying character because they don't know Stephen Colbert is do a character. I don't think Colbert Report is going to. OK, just calm down about all of that and let's just keep going.


Wow. I'm trying to give you the hospital that I got it. It's coming through. It's coming through. And that's the cycle of abuse. That's the cycle of abuse.


Still trying to finish my goddamn question. Oh, we love you to fucking start it. Hey, Stephen.


Hi. So given all of that great raw acting talent, do you have any desire to play characters like have like a acting career in and around your show?


In and around my show. Now, the show takes all of my time, you know, like I like I'd much rather produce other people's shows, like I'd much rather take this and help people the way I was help. That's what I'd like to do. Like while I'm doing my show, I think to really do a good job, I'd have to like stop doing the show. And I enjoy doing the show. I don't want to be I don't think I could do like a side hustle as an actor.


But could you could you see yourself doing like you were just mentioning, you know, the show that you wanted to do based on your character from The Colbert Report? Could you imagine taking that character and producing it and potentially writing it, whatever, and running it and having another actor say like a Lou Diamond Phillips playing you? Mm hmm. Is that something that you would consider? And again, no.


Now, wait a second. I was going to say no, OK? I was going to say no. And I said until you said Lou Diamond Phillips just to get under.


And there could be a natural sort of war angle to it as well, just knowing that Conan is so mad at him because koans like where does he get off, right. When he could do like a like a guest arc, like a stunt arc on it show.


But could you know, but all bets aside, could you could you see yourself producing like that idea that you had that you wanted for you producing it for somebody else?


Yeah, I mean, I thought that I'd rather I'd rather I'd rather do something else because that I specifically there was things I wanted to do with him that were always what I liked about him was how he climbed up against the real world, like going out into the real world. And it really upset people almost every time I did it. It was so funny. And and now I honestly, I like people to like me as much as the next person.


Sure. And so now I'm just a guy like, you know, I actually don't I love the audience. I don't some people have, like, a hostile relationship with their audience. Like, I never feel like it's the audience's fault. If the show doesn't go well, I never blame them. It's always me. That's my job. They're emotional. Yeah. And so I like people to like me. And so this is such a different job, whereas that old job I, I it was OK if they didn't like me, that was kind of the purpose of him going out into the world was to see what this kind of character would be clanging up in his most extreme state with real people who weren't in a given that, do you think in today's political climate that that you could do that show today?


And. No, I don't think I think it would it would it would poke the bear too much, wouldn't it?


I think it would be too dark. I think our political climate has got I could feel it. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to leave, is I no longer wanted to, as I said before, that I no one wanted to sip that cup of poison because I had a sip a little bit worse yet, a titrated a little bit to go do the character. Yeah. And I just couldn't even look at those people anymore. And now I would never imagine having to leapfrog the guy who was just to be worse than him.


No, I know, because he literally quoted my old character at times, literally like word for word.


What's the reaction you get when you go back to the south? You're from you're from the south? Yeah, I'm from South Carolina.


South Cal Roads lead north from South Carolina. Sure. Sure. That's good.


What's it like? It's fine. I mean, I don't still have family there. Yeah. Yeah. And I married a girl from there.


So, like, there's no debate about where we go when we have time and we like to have a play. We have a house like right across the street from our sister. It's like, really? That's great. We and her and her parents live in a block, a block and a half away, and my sister lives about a half a mile away.


And so when you show up in town, you don't have to wear a heavy disguise for four. No, no, it's no, no. I don't think I'm happy to say. I don't think anybody cares about me. Yeah, right. We do here. It's heartless. We do.


I don't get fan that and I'll get hostile that.


I'm just unless I'm sitting in the guest and as anybody because you, you come from a large family like me, not as nearly as large as. Is anybody else in the family, like, first of all, 11 kids who grew up with. There's got to be a gay one in there and it's not that we know of.


All right. Well, hang on. By the way, no one in there, the door is open. The door is open.


What was it like growing up in such a massive organization?


Normal. You know, whatever happens to your childhood is normal, right? So it felt perfectly normal. It wasn't until I had no sense of it. I was in first grade. So I'm in first grade and the very first day of first grade, we all the teacher I forgot Mrs. Pool, I think her name was we all had to sit up on the back of our seat, like with our butts are on the back of our seat. Our feet are in the seat of the seat.


And we're all to sit up there and she's going to hold up her hand fingers. And when she gets to the number of children in your family, sit down because she's trying to get to know us. Right. And she gets to ten. And I'm still sitting up on the back of my seat and she thinks that I can't count. Right. She's like, I'm the troubled child, because that's what that's why she's doing it, to see if kids know how to count.


And wow, this is 1969, South Carolina. This is just like two steps away from To Kill a Mockingbird and the Urals, live right around the corner.


And and so that's when I found out that it was unusual that you had that money. That was.


And are you trying to replicate that you have a bunch of kids running around there. How many do you have?


I'm trying to, but so far, just three. Just the three. Just three.


But I'm not giving up. Do they do they know what to do? And my wife is listening. I'm not going to the we're both in art. We're both in our late 50s. But you know what have you heard of Abraham?


Yeah, this is very threatening. And again, you may want to bring the tone down. Go ahead, Jason.


Do they do they know what you do? Do they appreciate you, your humor? Do they give it up or is it is it the toughest audience in the world like the rest of us?


I it's a tough audience. Yeah, it's a tough audience. I mean, I think they appreciate what dad does. Yeah. Yeah. Tough audience is still a good audience. That's nice. She's my audience now because I got no audience when she when she comes in and sits in the extra little red chair in the storage closet where I'm doing The Late Show right now. That's it. Like that's as good. I mean, I, I actually said this on the show the other night when I started off, I thought, like, God, I wish I could make an audience laugh the way I make every laugh.


But I, I could make it honest to God because it was like I could feel like the honesty and the intimacy because really that intimacy like what do you want. You like there's a sense of community with an audience if you get it. Right. Right. You know, and now she's it. That's it. Like she's the one I'm making laugh and it's kind of joyful and kind of wonderful. And the sad is the last year has been that's been a marvelous thing because she was she she and the kids were my crew down in South Carolina.


We bugged out one year ago. Yesterday we left the Ed Sullivan Theater. Yeah. Wow.


And we went down to South Carolina to help take care of her folks who are like, you know, in their 90s and they couldn't have anybody come in and help them.


So it was just really Evie and her sister taking care of them. So we were down there right down the street and we couldn't let crew into the house. We had a satellite truck parked on the front lawn on the grass, and they ran cables in through a spare bedroom window. What we packed foam around to try to keep the bugs out. And I put a kitchen stool next to an old desk from her family. And there was a TV in there.


I could put graphics up on it. And the first thing is my my middle son, my my daughter's in her twenties and out there with a job.


But she was working. She was like working online in the kitchen. And my eldest son was my crew for the first couple of months. And then he is like, I'm he was finishing up. College is like I'm literally not going to graduate if I keep doing this. Dad. So his younger brother, who was finishing up high school, both of them robbed of their senior years.


You know, they're worse. They're worse things. But it was I felt bad for him and he took over in tag team. And then both of them are like, mom, like Will and we won't be I'll graduate from high school. So then Evie took over and then she was my crew and which was just kind of great. And it was really like the old 19th century. Everybody's going to pitch in and help Dad down at the lumber mill because we've got the pine, you know, the new lodgepole pines are coming in.


We've got to make flooring or whatever they did nineteenth century. So did they laugh at the jokes? No, everyone would laugh at the jokes. I don't think that my boys cracked a smile for five months because that's how long we did it. But they weren't really paying attention either. Right. But what they did. But they because they were just doing the technical aspects of it. But it was like lighting, sound, camera, switching over like channels and everything, communicating with the people there on the headset, talking to the virtual control.


Basically a live show. No way.


A live show I want to create there on the kids on a headset on. Hold on. That we're switching satellites or whatever. That's what my boys are doing for me. And then my. Doing my makeup and then CBS catches when they go, oh, we could do this a lot cheaper, huh?


Well, we actually we actually had to get a union waiver. It was like an emergency, of course, like literally because it was emergency code. But the union said, OK, you can do this. But it was kind of an amazing thing. But they got to see what my I loved it because I think it's very helpful for everybody to become an adult, to see their parents. As of course, you know, I lost my dad when I was pretty young and I was robbed of that ability to see him as not Olympian, to not see him, to see him as a human being.


And so there's something stunting about your development if you don't get to see your parents as human and they one hundred percent saw their dad as human going like literally like in the middle of a monologue, just throw my glasses across and I'm going, I don't know how the fuck I'm supposed to do that with no audience and no sense of timing. Like I took the goddamn job at The Late Show, not because I had ever really, like, harbored this dream of being a late night talk show because this is a real late night.


Like, I didn't know what this job was like until I did. No idea. I mean, my respect for, like, the Jimmys and the Canaan's and your Dave's your j.s, your Johnny's your Steve Allen's and your Jack Paar's and your Dick Cavett. When I already liked him, I never had already liked him. But my respect went through. If I went, oh my God, this is a really hard job. And it's not anything like you are used to loving doing it.


Oh, absolutely. I mean, I want the audience back, but it wasn't literally wasn't on the bucket list to do this gig. And when I was offered, I went, oh God, it's the only fucking promotion I could think of is to take that job and no one's ever going to offer to me again. I'll give it a shot. Right. Right. I love it. Live audience thinking of it that morning and doing it that night and finding out because the audience makes the special sound with their mouths and you know that work and you get to pull another piece of Kleenex out of the box tomorrow.


That's what I love about it. And I've been doing it for a year now with none of that. And my kids got to see the guy for the first two weeks. I kind of like just imploded in front of the camera. And then I went, OK, stop complaining, this is what it is. And then I found some real enjoyment in it. I found actually the ability to, like, take take some risks that I couldn't with a lot.


Sure. Yeah, that's all.


And it made me think of Jason, too, because you said, you know, your daughter did your makeup and Jason's daughters do his makeup every morning before he goes to the mall or whatever. And I think that that's nice, too, to have that connection.


You know, we've got to connect once a day. Yeah. You're dying to get back to audiences then, right? Yeah, I think that'll happen probably in the next two or three months. Right.


Somewhere between three months and three years from now, because you keep on getting these different messages from people. But I think people are getting shot so quickly now. You know, when people can, like, show proof of vaccination and we can do like a show, like, they're like seven minute rapid tests coming down the pipe when we can do that. Right. And I can have four hundred people that I don't want I want to go back on that stage like I left there.


I bet that's June. I mean, now that Biden said May 1st, everyone's going to be everyone's going to qualify. Yeah, that's June, right.


Middle of June. Yeah. June, July. Maybe after the Fourth of July or something like that. Because if Biden says we can all get together for small parties in Fourth of July, I think it's reasonable by mid-July because we're off for those two first two weeks, by mid-July, we might be able to do that. But I hope don't hold me to that because I don't I don't have any idea.


Oh, well, I don't know how else to hold it to.


You said it comes down on you and we'll come back to you. And so what if it doesn't go the right way?


I'm. Have you guys ever talked to Conan because he talks, we talked and we cut him off the word, we cut a fucking I want you to promise me you're not going to broadcast.


You have our word on it. Because I promised him. I promised him.


What about what about the ski trip? That about about on those ski.


He said, I beg you, never say anything. Really ruin. We've already cut that.


This will to have our word. You are a very, very generous man with your time, your spirit, your stories and your laughter.


Stephen, thank you so much. Thank you very, very much for doing this. Thank you, Stephen.


This was so funny, you guys. This is worth burning in a couple of hours on a Saturday, and I hope so. We appreciate it very much for being such a nice guy. So funny. I see you guys in the wrestling. All right. See you, buddy. Stephen, thank you.


Thanks, man. Thank you. Bye, buddy.


So are we really leaving or really loving you? Yes, we really know.


What was one of those things where you go because you broke you broke me with the Conan story. You fucking broke me in half. I never recovered a true story.


I never thought I'd never recover. So we cannot use that is what you're saying about this.


If he ever talks about it, if he ever if he ever said anything about me dropping a deuce when asking if he ever says anything like that, then all bets are off, obviously. But I don't know anything about that because that never happened.


According to you. The other one never happened either. What about what?


What did he say? Anything about me?


Because I know nothing about listen, I can't we're not allowed to say anything about anything. We're we're with an NDA with you. We're going to NDA with him. Yeah.


OK, so you're saying he said something? I mean, I can't say that I said anything. I don't even know. I'm not even allowed to acknowledge the fact that he can talk. OK, OK, good.


Whatever you do, whatever you do, do not broadcast the fact that upclose Conan looks like one of those guys.


They fish out of a bog and I'm like, who is sacrificing some Celtic ceremony like three thousand years ago?


And like, you see him in a museum in Dublin and they look like a catcher's mitt up in Cooperstown that was used by like Shoeless Joe Jackson and they forgot to oil for one hundred years.


You don't want us to say that. You don't want us to have you on saying that. That is if that is super of that. Not, of course. And we'll respect that. We'll respect that. Right. Right, exactly. Because he still can bust a move in this town.


And I don't want to make sure you're safe with us. We understand that. All right. Goodbye. This is. Goodbye, Stephen.


Thank you. Goodbye. Wow, that guy should host a talk show. Let me tell you something. He knows how to get a conversation going, knows how to keep it going, keep it going.


OK, so that was crazy to hear Colbert tell a story that feels like we heard a different side of. Yeah, Conan has a completely different and the question is now who's who's the liar, you know? And I mean, this is where it comes into who what camp are you in? Are you in Colbert's camp now? Right. Are you in Conan's camp?


I must say at first I believed Conan, but but, you know, now that Steven was just on it, maybe because it was just on he was extremely persuasive in his specific and very specific right on the story.


He seemed a lot more specific than Conan actually implied or even said that the excrement was safety code orange. Yeah, right.


Obviously, again, as Colbert pointed out, in show business, you have to pick a side and you can never deviate from it. But I would say that knowing Conan, you know, historically, I've known him for, whatever, 20 years. He's such a fucking liar. So it's hard not to just immediately assume that he because he is such a such a untruthful fucking person through and through. I mean, when you run into him, he opens with a lie.


I don't know.


Do you trust the fucking liar or do you trust the guy with the. I guess I'm going to go Colbert.


Yeah, yeah. I'm Stephen Colbert. Let's just do that. Let's just land there for now. Yeah. All right. Yeah. Great guest.


He is, though. I mean, to be able to sustain the energy to do a daily talk show where you have to be, you know, interested every single day and write all of that stuff.


And it's just I know he's such a unique I don't really know him. I know him from through the biz distri, through like award shows and stuff. We always end up getting kind of corralled into the same area for a number of years.


I just want to quit. I think his background holding a surprise. That's what I call yes. Yes. Because that's what the show was for. Yep.


And and then they would but we and he was always he and his wife were always so delightful and sweet and funny and cool and normal and and then of course, as a performer, he's just hilarious.


Funny. Yeah. Here's here's the thing.


Conan is such a liar that last year he tried to convince me honestly with a straight face. He tried to convince me that he grew up in Mumbai.


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