For far too long, the globe has turned and turned without Stephen Colbert spinning the thing. Two-hundred and sixty-four days, or eight months and 21 days, since he told us he would meet us again — don't know how, don't know when.
Well, good news: Now we know how and when, because The Great Colbert Hiatus is officially over!
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" opened up for business on Tuesday (September 8), and we stayed up all night chronicling the erstwhile "Colbert Report" host's return as a late night heavyweight. Even without the off-season beard, Colbert completely crushed it with a show that played a bit more mainstream, while hanging onto a lot of the signature weirdness that makes Colbert... well, Colbert.
Here's how it all went down, with most recent updates at the top:
12:45 AM: That's all she wrote — except for the secret bonus ending where Jimmy Fallon and Colbert share a locker room, because of course they do.
12:37 AM: Colbert turns the floor over to his new band leader Jon Batiste and Stay Human — and some very special friends, including the legendary Mavis Staples, Ben Folds and more — to sing Sly & The Family Stone's "Everyday People." The clip's not up yet, so until then, watch this and get pumped:
12:32 AM: Jeb Bush takes a few jabs at his brother and former president George, explaining that the big difference between the two basically boils down to the fact that Jeb has a mobster pseudonym: Veto Corleone.
12:30 AM: Colbert makes fun of Bush's campaign poster. "It connotes excitement…," says Bush. And then Colbert cracks up and can't stop saying "JEB!" That poster, by the way, looks like this:
12:27 AM: Bush says he's about to say something "heretical," leading into: "I don't think Barack Obama has bad motives. I just think he's wrong on a lot of issues." Colbert groans, "Oh, you were so close to getting everyone to clap!"
12:25 AM: Colbert explains to Bush how this new show is different from the old one: "I used to play a narcissistic conservative pundit. Now I'm just a narcissist."
12:19 AM: First guest is in the books. Next up: Jeb Bush. Given how the night's been going, this will probably get pretty weird pretty fast.
12:14 AM: Oh, never mind, of course Clooney has a movie — a nonexistent movie, but a movie nonetheless: "Decision Strike." Written, directed and starring himself. It's an action movie with plenty of romance and a lot of clips for something that does not truly exist. Cannot wait for this one. Please be good, please be good, please be good.
12:12 AM: George has no movies to promote. He talks about genocide in Darfur, being his wife Amal's arm candy, and he receives a late wedding present from the new "Late Show" host: A Tiffany box containing an engraved paper weight that says: "I Don't Know You." It's a reminder that they do not know each other, and they don't want to do "the celebrity thing" where they pretend they have a relationship. And then they have nothing further to discuss. Awkward.
12:07 AM: Only on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" will the crowd chant "STEPHEN STEPHEN STEPHEN" at the sight of George Clooney. Cue sad George:
12:03 AM: Aaaaand Colbert is basically just the Cookie Monster.
12:00 AM: Colbert finds that Trump is much like an Oreo. You can't just have one.
11:57 PM: Stephen pledges to talk about all of the presidential candidates... who are Donald The Trump, enemy of Oreo cookies: "I'm not surprised he's willing to stand up to Big Cookie. He's the only candidate brave enough to deport the Keebler Elves."
11:51 PM: Okay, is anyone else suddenly craving Sabra, or is that just me?
11:49 PM: The new "Late Show" man cave has a desk created out of the carving of a single desk, a bunch of TVs, a droning cursed amulet that demands to eat Sabra roasted red pepper hummus, and a familiar iconic decoration:
11:47 PM: Colbert thanks the man who occupied the chair ahead of him. "The comedy landscape is so thickly planted with the forest of Dave's ideas," he says. "I'm not replacing David Letterman. His creative legacy is a high pencil mark on a door frame we all have to measure against. We'll try to honor his achievements by doing the best show we can, and occasionally... making the network very mad at us." Cue the Simon Baker switch.
11:43 PM: So, Colbert isn't just the new "Late Show" host, he's also the "Late Show" announcer. Colbert announcing himself is the new Colbert running to the guests, and it's wonderful.
11:42 PM: The world's funkiest ice cream truck comes down the street in the form of "Late Show" band leader Jon Batiste. They blast the new theme song, and it is indeed at least three scoops of funk, with all the fixings.
11:41 PM: Colbert thanks CBS for everything, giving him time off, and making him feel like the third broke girl. And then he sees CBS CEO Les Moonves in the front row with a precautionary measure in case "Late Show" tanks. Cue the random "Mentalist" clip. Simon Baker is never a bad back-up plan.
11:39 PM: "This show, I begin the search for the real Stephen Colbert. I just hope I don't find him on Ashley Madison."
11:38 PM: Huge applause that stalls Stephen's monologue for almost two minutes. "If I had known you were going to do that, I would've been back here months ago!"
11:37 PM: "Play ball," says someone very familiar.
11:36 PM: Colbert begins by singing the National Anthem with everybody in America, and bowling a strike. So, basically, nothing has changed. Awesome.
11:35 PM: And we're live!
11:33 PM: While we're waiting, remember that time Stephen made us cry a month ago? Yeah, that was awesome/awful.
11:29 PM: In case you're wondering why it's worth staying up so late to watch Colbert's "Late Show" debut, look no further.
11:25 PM: The show begins in ten minutes. In the meantime, we're putting the finishing touches on our show-appropriate Middle-Earth cosplay.