​Stephen Colbert, for real

LOOK WHO'S TALKING? He's Stephen Colbert, the new host of "The Late Show," and he's talking this morning to our Mo Rocca:

"I started off as an actor. I really thought, 'Oh, I wonder if I'll ever make it to Broadway?'" said Stephen Colbert. "Well, I made it! Through a fairly circuitous route, but I made it."

Colbert has indeed made it to Broadway, to the restored Ed Sullivan Theater, where he's succeeding David Letterman as host of "The Late Show."


Don't worry: All the ladders and scaffolding will be cleared out by the time he welcomes his first guests on Tuesday night.

Rocca asked, "Will you greet the guests before they come on stage? 'Cause some hosts don't!"

"Yeah, some hosts don't. I got in the habit of doing it at the old show because I wanted to say, 'Hey, the guy you're about to meet is a complete idiot. And, you know, he's well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.'"

The poorly informed, high-status idiot Stephen Colbert is referring to is the character "Stephen Colbert" he played for 10 years on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" -- a caricature of a blowhard conservative pundit.

There's been plenty of speculation on who exactly will be hosting on Tuesday night.

Rocca recalled a CBS party held after the fall lineup announcement, where he chatted with Colbert: "And when I walked away after the conversation, a CBS executive came up to me and said, 'So, what's he really like?' Is that funny to you, this whole question of who really is Stephen Colbert?"

"It's understandable," Colbert replied. "I mean, I worked really hard to be that other guy for 10 years. ...

"I hope they'll find out pretty quickly that the guy they saw for 10 years was my sense of humor the whole time. It is, I guess, flattering that people thought I was an actual pundit or a newsman, eventually over the years.

"But it's really nice to not have to pretend it anymore!"

So what is his goal for the new show? "The goal is to have fun with my friends," he said. "And, you know, that means sometimes talking about things that you care about. We're going to want to be talking about what's going on in the world."

"But you can be more transparently curious?" Rocca asked.

"Exactly. That's exactly -- a great word. I wanna be publicly curious!"


And if the initial lineup of guests is any indication, his curiosity ranges far and wide, from stars like George Clooney and Amy Schumer, to the CEO of Uber, to a sitting Supreme Court Justice.

How his show will distinguish itself from all the other late night shows remains to be seen.

Rocca asked, "You have to be keeping one eye on what the other shows are doing, right?"

"I watch those shows. I mean, I like 'em. But we're here to compete with ourselves. We're runners competing against our own time."

"So you're not looking at it as real estate like, 'Okay, Lip Sync Battles is already taken. That's Jimmy Fallon's thing. So I'm gonna --'"