The world will get its first look at the all-new, all-different Stephen Colbert when he takes the reins of “The Late Show” on Tuesday night.
It’s anyone’s guess how the 51-year-old comedian will transform from his satirical character and program to his real self in a more “traditional” format, but this much is certain: New York will play an integral role in generating laughs.
“That’s why people stay in New York to do these shows,” said David Bushman, the curator for the Paley Center for Media. “You have the media access to people out there walking … and it’s a city filled with characters.”
Bushman said the variety of New York is reflected in Colbert’s first week of guests, which includes A-listers such as George Clooney and Amy Schumer, the entrepreneur Elon Musk, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush and Vice President Joe Biden.
“He’s politically inclined, he’s caustic, extremely intelligent. His frame is less celebrity centric,” Bushman said.
Colbert’s field reporter past on “The Daily Show” before “The Colbert Report” might indicate a street-centric show in the vein of David Letterman at his height, said Paul Levinson, a professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University.
It’d stand apart from Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show,” which mostly stays in studio and focuses on viral segments, Levinson said.
“Colbert has a chance to make his show more New York than Fallon and pick up the energy from the people,” he said.
Fans of Colbert are counting on his “Late Show” to maintain an urban spirit.
“There’s a lot going on in the city,” said Nathan Terrell, 26, a student from Bed-Stuy. “He’s been around here for a long time and can joke about the good and the bad of the city.”
Brett Mauk, a Fort Wayne, Indiana, resident and longtime “Late Show” fan, is equally convinced Colbert will assume Letterman’s mantle with ease.
“I liked it when [Letterman] would throw things out of the window or go drive around in a cab to a drive through,” said Mauk, who was visiting his son in Manhattan. “It wouldn’t be the ‘Late Show’ without gags like that so I expect Colbert to do similar jokes.”