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"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" returns with a full studio audience for the first time in over a year

For nearly 15 months, Stephen Colbert has been remotely filming "The Late Show" from "the converted storage room eight floors" up. He's produced 211 episodes remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now he's back on his old stage.  

Colbert's hit late night show on CBS returned Monday with an audience of over 400 people in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Audience members had to provide proof of full vaccination to attend, but masks were optional once inside. As the show began, the audience chanted "Ste-phen! Ste-phen!" as Colbert hugged bandleader and musical director Jon Batiste. The standing ovation lasted over a minute. 

460 Days Later, Stephen Colbert Returns To THE Late Show Stage With A Full Audience by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on YouTube

Former "Daily Show" host and friend of Colbert's Jon Stewart made a guest appearance. "This human contact — now you know I don't care for it," Stewart joked, adding, "You and Dave Chappelle, I believe, sustained me during this period." Comedian Dana Carvey also joined the fun with an impersonation of President Biden.

Colbert's wife Evelyn Magee-Colbert, who was his only in-person audience member for some time during the pandemic, also came onstage. 

"Audience, he's all yours now. And don't forget to laugh because he really needs it," she said.

Audience members were thrilled to be allowed into the Ed Sullivan Theater for the show. Marissa Godfrey, a nurse from Connecticut, told CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver that her family tuned into Colbert nightly during quarantine and "he's been a form of therapy for me." 

Many see the reopening of theaters as a sign of hope. Most of New York's major theaters are set to reopen mid-September, which will be a boost to the city's economy; Broadway brings in an estimated $14.7 billion and supports nearly 100,000 jobs. 

"We are the first show back up on Broadway. Suck it, 'Lion King'!" Colbert joked. 

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